The classroom training you get when earning your CNA certification gives you an excellent grounding for your work in healthcare. But as every new nurse will tell you, on the job is a totally different experience.
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Dealing with patients means every day is different. Nothing in school can train your for the real life of a CNA, which is ever-changing and demanding.
Here is a look at what you won’t learn in your CNA program, but will quickly pick up on the job.
What To Do with Feelings
Being a CNA means handling death, pain, chronic illness, rudeness and constant pressure. A range of emotions wells up in response to these circumstances. Your body will produce adrenaline like Starbuck’s does caffeine.
Rest assured, over time you will quit shaking when dealing with new and frightening situations or when you make mistakes. You will learn how to act quickly and with detachment in an emergency.
But the emotions don’t go away, you simply learn to detach in order to do your job competently. CNAs who decide they want to continue with the job develop healthy ways of handling the stress and residue of those emotions from each day’s shift. Those who stay in for the long haul learn to switch from a bag of Oreos to a 30-minute walk.
The Art of Reporting
CNAs are on the firing line when it comes to patient care. They see the sick at their most vulnerable. This means you are a fount of information that can be valuable for doctors and others on the healthcare team.
It takes actual interaction with RNs and doctors to learn to communicate your information effectively. Though you are taught the rudiments in the classroom, you won’t know how to make an effective medical report until you’ve spent time on the job.
Even though you knew how to eat a candy bar, talk on the phone and surf the web all at the same time before you became a CNA, you won’t know how to truly multi-task until you’re given two or more patients to care for. It’s sink or swim, and most CNAs learn and thrive with this type of pressure.
You learn to bathe a patient not just gently and thoroughly, but quickly. When told to clean a room, take vitals and report to your supervisor, you just nod your head and get on with it.
You will get a new understanding of friendships formed under the pressure of medical emergencies and never enough time. They can be with fellow CNAs, nurses, doctors and patients.
This camaraderie is one of the most joyfully unexpected pleasures of working in the healthcare field. They help sustain you when the stress builds, when you must deal with death and when your emotions are showing.
Your classroom work is essential, but be prepared for the surprising lessons you learn on the job as a CNA.