Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) provides an opportunity to give back and make a difference in people’s lives. In a recent survey, every one of NextStep’s placed CNAs reported this as the thing they like best about being a CNA. Whether working in care centers, assisted-living facilities, hospitals or homes, CNAs say they develop close relationships with individuals in their care similar to the bond they might share with a close relative.
The CNA role is perfect for people who are patient, kind, compassionate and resilient. CNAs work hard, but the job is never boring — every day is a little different, and the rewards can be enormous. Here are some of the benefits of becoming a CNA.
CNAs know they’re making a difference in the world, but the benefits aren’t all selfless. The job typically offers full benefits — a priceless perk in these times — and the chance to take on extra hours when needed, which can be great when holiday-shopping season rolls around. Many facilities also offer tuition reimbursement, a critical support for learners who want to go on to become licensed practical nurses (LPN) or registered nurses (RN). Some facilities may pay out signing bonuses to attract talent and get CNAs off on the right foot.
The CNA role provides valuable experience with collaborative and independent problem solving. CNAs have to come up with creative solutions to sometimes unpredictable challenges. They learn to assess each day’s unique and changing needs and then prioritize them. These problem-solving skills transfer to daily life and support professional growth into other medical fields such as nursing.
Most CNA jobs are eight hours a day, 40 hours a week. But there’s often flexibility to choose which eight-hour shift works best for you. Second shift, for example, can give students time to attend classes and get some studying in before heading to work. Though CNAs need to work well as part of a team, they still have the opportunity to bring a personalized approach to the job. CNAs rely on their instincts to develop a knowledge of, and connection to, individuals in their care so they can better respond to their needs.
CNAs work closely with colleagues to better address the needs of the individuals in their care. Every shift in a facility begins and ends by sharing information with colleagues about residents’ most pressing needs and any changes in their condition. CNAs rely on their colleagues for support on tasks ranging from understanding documentation to navigating the unique personalities of the people in their care. Keeping a sense of humor is an important part of succeeding as a CNA. Because CNAs work so closely together in a casual, comfortable environment, they report that one of the most rewarding aspects of the job is their rapport with coworkers.
For candidates looking to establish a career in nursing, CNA experience has become almost a prerequisite. Skills learned in the CNA role put candidates in a strong position to become an LPN and eventually an RN. Experienced caregivers consider the shift from CNA to LPN or RN to be more of a widening of the scope of practice than moving to a unique new role. Not only does the CNA role help develop problem-solving skills, it also promotes soft skills like attentiveness, empathy and persuasiveness that transfer across all professional fields and daily life.
For the right candidate, becoming a CNA can be the first step on a hugely rewarding career — or a great way to give back that comes with the flexibility to help create a personalized schedule and approach to the job. Think a CNA career is right for you? Click below to learn more!