Tools of The Trade: 5 Tools Every CNA Must Have

CNAs today work with the shiniest, biggest and latest technology to help them provide direct care to patients. However, modern technology cannot replace the simple tools that medical staff has been using for decades. Depending on your place of work and specialty, you’ll be able to perform most of your duties using standard tools that fit in your pockets.

Your Hands

As a direct care provider, your hands are your most important tools. Without them you won’t be able to take the patient’s pulse, check for a fever, assist with personal hygiene or give a compassionate pat. Yes, your hands are essential, but they’re also agents of disease, which is why you must wash them to protect yourself and your patients.


A stethoscope is the most recognized symbol of medical care workers, especially for doctors and nurses, but sometimes for CNAs. You’ll use your stethoscope to check patients’ vital signs. During CNA training, your instructors will show you how to use the tool to determine blood pressure the manual way. On the job, there might be other tools to check vital signs. However, it’s always a plus to check your patients’ health with the simplest of tools.

Gait Belt

A gait belt is a safety device you’ll use to transfer patients from one place to another, such as from a bed to a chair. You’ll also use it to help patients while they walk – if they’re too weak to support their own weight. The belt essentially helps you to support patients, so they don’t fall. During training, you’ll learn how to use the gait belt the right way. You’ll use it daily to prevent back injury and protect your patients.

Surgical Scissors

Keep your own pair of medical scissors on hand as they’re handy for changing dressings if you’re given that task. You’ll also use them if you need to cut clothing off the patient during an emergency. The ends of the scissors are blunt, pointed and curved upwards to protect tender skin.


Scrubs are comfortable, but ,what’s more important is that they’re durable. They’re available in a wide range of colors, textures, and style. However, keep in mind that the facility where you work might have specific guidelines for the color and style of the scrubs you wear. Apart from scrubs, you’ll need a sturdy pair of comfortable, closed-toed, rubber-soled shoes. Whether you choose tennis shoes, Crocs or another style, cotton socks will help to keep your feet dry throughout the day.

Other Tools of the Trade

Your place of work will determine the other tools you’ll need. A watch with a second hand is essential for most CNAs. The facility will have an abundant supply of blood pressure cuffs, but you’re welcome to purchase one of your own. In your pockets, you can also carry your own hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean, extra gloves, a sharpie for labeling residents’ personal items, and post-its for jotting down your observations or vital signs to pass on to the nurse.

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