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CNA laughing with an elderly woman

4 CNA lessons I learned on the job

by Meaghen Green, CNA, NextStep Lead Mentor
December 1, 2021

People become CNAs for various reasons. For me, I stumbled upon a career as a CNA while in college. I needed a job to make ends meet and an internship to graduate. I applied as a dietary aide in an assisted living facility in the summer before my last semester of college. When classes started in the fall, my available hours changed, and I was transferred into a personal care assistant position. 

At the time, I really didn’t know much about the job, but I was happy I found something that also met my internship requirements. I’ve always had a passion for helping people, and my experience as a CNA has fulfilled that desire. Throughout my career, I have learned much about myself and those I’ve cared for in my CNA role. 

Here are four lessons I’ve learned along the way. 

1. CNAs help with daily life.

When an individual loses the ability to care for themselves, it can be challenging. Just imagine how you might feel if you could no longer bathe, feed or dress yourself. These tasks can become hard for many individuals as they age or because of physical or intellectual disabilities. 

A simple 15-minute shower can take longer and require more help than what the individual needed previously. Instead of being able to put on their clothes or walk to the closet quickly, some individuals need to take a break or catch their breath. Even a few small drops of water on the bathroom floor can become dangerous. But, with a CNA being there for help, these challenges won’t seem as significant. 

2. CNAs build personal relationships.

As a CNA, each of my clients knows me by name. If I’m absent, they feel the impact. My clients look forward to seeing me every day because the care I provide makes a difference in their lives. Over the years, I have witnessed personal aspects of people’s lives and shared situations with them at some of their highest points and I lent a hand during their lowest.

3. CNAs make a difference.

I love my job as a CNA because each day that I go to work, I have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people in a positive way. A CNAs main role is to provide basic care to patients as well as assist them in daily activities. Not only are you available to help within your scope of practice, but you also offer companionship to the sick and those who can’t get out of their homes. Some of the best stories I’ve heard have been from my clients—they keep me laughing.

4. CNAs are present when others can’t be.

CNAs are a listening ear to the lonely. My work as a CNA has taught me valuable people skills, as well as deepened my compassion for others. Seeing people suffer with different illnesses has a way of grounding you. Going to work every day isn’t a thing that I dread because I am proud of my work and what it does for people. I see that the care I provide does not go unnoticed. I make someone’s life better just by being there. 

Choosing a career as a CNA

Becoming a CNA represents the beginning of a career in nursing. Whether you continue with your nursing education or continue as a CNA, the opportunities are endless to work in direct care with individuals or go into management, to work in skilled nursing facilities, home care, hospitals or hospice care.  

CNAs help the elderly stay independent in their homes. We assist families that are concerned about aging loved ones. We are the first impression for people who visit hospitals, no matter how long they stay. We are involved in every aspect of healthcare. 

We are certified nursing assistants.

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