“What do you do all day?” I get asked that question at least a few times a week. Sometimes I am asked by people who are considering becoming CNAs or by CNAs-in-training. It’s important for new CNAs to know what to expect when they get their first job, so I’ve written up a typical day in the life of a CNA.

6 AM: My alarm clock buzzes and I roll out of bed, get dressed, throw my scrubs and some snacks into my bag and off I go…

7 AM: The subway ride is over and I’m at work grabbing my first cup of coffee. Maybe not the healthiest beverage but it helps perk me up. I get a report, start my rounds and take some vitals.

8 AM: Time for technical work like cleaning and checking that rooms are stocked with necessary supplies.

9 AM: I’m on rounds again. The residents are mostly awake and alert, so I’m changing and taking them to the toilet. And asking them what they need in advance to cut down on call light summonses later on.

10 AM: I may have cut down on some call lights, but there are still plenty of people who need my help.

11 AM: Rounds again…

12 PM: I’m getting the patients ready for lunch. I put some of them in their chairs and helps others sit up in bed. I make sure they have towels over them so they don’t get food on their clothes.

1 PM: Last rounds of the shift. I check that everyone and everything is clean so I don’t leave a mess for the next shift coming in.

3 PM: Back to the subway station. Hopefully I’ll get a seat on the way home and be able to rest my legs a bit before staring all the household chores that await me – laundry, dinner and dishwashing.

7 PM: Off to night school, where I’m studying to become an LPN. Good thing I don’t have a morning shift tomorrow so I can sleep in a little tomorrow morning. Not much, though – have to get the kids to school and do my homework.

Yes, it’s intense. Yes, it can be exhausting. But it’s also exhilarating. I come home at the end of a long shift filled with satisfaction at a job well done. I know that the small tasks like changing someone’s clothes or helping them sit up are actually a big deal. I know that I am privileged to help people day in and day out and I wouldn’t trade this job for anything.