One of the most important and sometimes difficult relationships in the medical profession is the interaction between the nurse and the CNA.
Certified nursing assistants are often overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.
Some nurses tend to look down their noses at CNAs, and even some patients don’t give them the respect they deserve. I know from my years on the floor that I would not have gotten very far without the help, advice, and support of my fantastic CNAs.
If you are a nurse, you should go out of your way to show appreciation to your hardworking assistants.
If you are an underappreciated CNA, you may want to anonymously post this in the lunchroom for all of the staff to see.
Help when possible
Nurses are always busy, from the moment their feet hit the floor until they are allowed to leave. Most CNAs are just as busy, running from one needy patient to the next and answering call lights.
It is tempting to ask a CNA to do something that you could do. Toileting, getting beverages, or adjusting bedding are not below a nurse, and seeking out a CNA to do these things is demeaning.
Instead, do what you can and know that your CNA is working hard elsewhere.
Yes, you need to get to that med pass, but unless someone is literally dying, there is no reason why a nurse can’t do some of the tasks that are usually delegated to the overworked CNA.
Listen to their observations
When a patient is going south, it is usually a CNA who notices first. Yes, assessment is one of the only tasks that cannot be delegated, but this doesn’t mean that CNAs can’t notice problems well before a nurse ever could.
Some nurses tend to ignore the observations of their CNA. They could think they are overreacting, not educated enough to know real problems from minor inconveniences, or are simply wrong.
This would be a mistake, and it can lead to poorer patient outcomes and a sense of disrespect for the CNA. If your assistant notices that a patient is acting funny, vitals are changing, or something just isn’t right, it is the nurse’s job to respect that observation and investigate.
Treat them as One of the Team
You communicate with the doctors, the patients, the family, and other nurses, but do you include your CNA in your team building?
CNAs are a vital part of the team, not only for the work they do and the observations they make, but because the whole system would fall apart without them.
Some nurses have a poor attitude when it comes to CNAs. While it is true that some workers are not as diligent as others, the same could be said of nurses.
In fact, some CNAs rebel and don’t work as hard when they feel marginalized and disrespected.
It is important to make it clear to the CNAs that you delegate to that they are part of the medical care team, their input is valuable, and their tasks are appreciated.
Don’t take them for granted
Finally, don’t take your CNA for granted. Yes, they are getting paid to work, and you expect them to do their work without the fanfare because it is their job.
However, nurses know very well what it is like to have someone look past you, to feel like you don’t matter, and that your input isn’t valuable or welcome. It’s a nursing epidemic, but it’s a human thing, too.
CNAs do the hardest work on the floor. They are responsible for the dirtiest jobs, the most difficult ratios, and the least amount of pay and respect.
Nurses don’t like to be taken for granted by doctors and management, and passing this cycle of disrespect down the chain of command doesn’t help anyone.
Thank your assistants for doing such a good job, for being there when you need them, and for making the machinery of healthcare run more smoothly for everyone involved.