Some things in life are hard to describe till you experience them. Sort of like the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. Explaining what it’s like to be a CNA isn’t easy either. Everyone knows it’s hard work and that it can be very satisfying, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s what I have learned on the job:

  1. At some point you won’t think of bodily fluids as gross anymore; you’ll just see them as a natural part of bodily functions. And this is good because when you are matter of fact about these things your patients are less embarrassed about them. It can even be helpful at home when your kid throws up all over you!
  2. You can fake happiness. There are days when I’ve had to drag myself into work when I really wanted to be on a beach sipping sangria. You know, those days when you had to fight with your child to take a coat on a freezing day, your washing machine is acting up and the grocery store was out of your favorite food… But when I walk in the doors of the nursing facility, I just paste a smile on my face (it helps to imagine that beach) and spread cheer to the residents.
  3. You can never have enough pens. This is a running joke in my nursing facility. If I start the day with 5 pens, I am likely to end it with none – and tons of charts to fill out. I’ve started carrying them in hidden pockets and claiming I have none whenever someone asks to borrow one “for just a second.”
  4. The place would fall apart without us. The doctors have much more knowledge than we do and the nurses can do procedures we can’t. But we’re still a hugely important cog in the wheel. Doctors and nurses can’t do their jobs without CNAs, and even if they don’t say so, they all know it, and they’re counting on us to be their eyes and ears in the wards.
  5. It’s the little things that matter. Medical professionals talk a lot about the big things like medication and surgeries but health is also about the small issues. Details like making sure a resident eats right, noticing when his behavior is off, keeping him comfortable and pain free are just as important. A positive attitude is key in improving health and we help make that happen.