As a nurse, I know firsthand how hard CNAs work and how much they mean to a healthcare team. As one CNA put it, in addition to being the eyes and ears of the nurses, a nursing assistant’s work is “a mixture of janitor, maid, entertainer, family member, and forklift.”
Entry-level CNAs are lucky to make $12/hour. Devoted CNAs who stick with the job for decades, despite the low pay and high stress, may make $17/hour! As baby boomers like me get older, the demand for nursing assistants will skyrocket. Yet, there is already a shortage…and the average annual turnover rate for nursing assistants is 71%! Thankfully, there is that 29% of CNAs who remain on the job. One of those long term care heroes is Corey Anne Rotella, CNA. Recently, Corey shared some thoughts about this issue on the blog for In the Know:
“Anyone working as a nursing assistant has chosen a very challenging path. Poor compensation, workplace politics, short staffing, conflict between coworkers, irate and difficult residents, miscommunication, heavy lifting and the loss of those for whom we care all make for a tough work environment. I definitely have lock-myself-in-the-linen-closet-to-get-myself-together moments. And, I have my weepfest-over-a-pint-of-Ben-and-Jerry’s-ice-cream days. So, why do I keep coming back? Why do I stay?
First of all, I embrace the challenge. I thrive on it. In my life, it is a rare and beautiful thing to be able to bring order to chaos rather than the other way around.”
Corey goes on to say that she is grateful for the life lessons she has learned from working in a healthcare organization. She recognizes the impact her work has had on her ability to communicate with others and to resolve conflicts. But even more important to Corey is what she has learned from her residents:
“They inspire me every day. To live with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, cancer or dementia and still laugh and love and find joy is nothing short of amazing. It’s such an incredible gift to be a part of their lives…to walk them through the tough days and celebrate with them during their triumphs. They have shown me the uselessness of the word ‘impossible.’”
My guess is that many other nursing assistants feel the same way. It’s their residents, patients or clients who keep them coming back, day after day. We’d love to hear directly from you, though, so please–CNAs everywhere–share your comments about why YOU stay.
And, as always, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do!!
Linda Leekley BS, RN
P.S. You can read Corey’s entire article here.
- NA Week 2014 begins on June 12th, Career Nursing Assistants Day, and continues through June 19, 2014.
- Each day of NA Week focuses on a different aspect of the slogan, “Nursing Assistants@the Heart of Caring.”
- Career Nursing Assistants Day honors “Stayers,” those NAs eligible for the National Honor Society for Nursing Assistants or those who have remained in caring positions for extended periods of time.
- Projects and programs planned for this week focus on respect, encouragement, listening, contracting , partnering and other soft skills required for Person-Centered Care.
If you would like more information, please…
Contact: Genevieve Gipson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit: National Network of Career Nursing Assistants website
Like: National Network of Career Nursing Assistants Facebook page
Have you heard about the upcoming HBO documentary, PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK: THE LIFE & TIMES OF KATRINA GILBERT? Here’s an excerpt for the synopsis on HBO:
“Filmed over the course of one year in Chattanooga, Tenn., PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK follows Katrina Gilbert, a 30-year-old mother of three who works as a certified nursing assistant in an extended-care facility while striving to address her own health-care issues. Overworked, underpaid, uninsured and lacking support, she chooses daily between purchasing her own medication and paying for the needs of her three children, which often leaves her struggling to make ends meet.
Despite these obstacles, Gilbert works to better her circumstances, applying for college courses that could raise her income. But circumstances often leave her slipping backwards, wondering if she will ever truly be able to get ahead.”
PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK debuts MONDAY, MARCH 17 (9:00-10:15 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
If you don’t get HBO, the film will be available to view online for FREE from March 17th – 24th on hbo.com, ShriverReport.org and youtube.com.
Please watch this important documentary and let us know what you think!
It’s wonderful to read inspiring articles about direct care workers…and this article by Lori Porter certainly fits the bill! Lori is a former nursing assistant herself who went on to serve more than 30 years as a nursing home administrator. She is also the co-founder and CEO of the National Association of Health Care Assistants.
Ms. Porter recalls the first hero she ever met working in long-term care, a CNA named Stella Parrish. She viewed Stella as a hero for many reasons, especially because:
“She gave me an attitude adjustment that saved my career in long-term care — and this was back in the days before all the buzz words of “empowerment” and being positive. Stella schooled me well, explaining that she was tired of hearing me complain about everything. She told me the nursing home meant something to her and she would not allow me to make everyone miserable. She concluded with a request that if I could not stop complaining and inciting negativity among my co-workers that I leave. I did stop complaining and thanks to Stella, I became a better nursing assistant and a better person.”
We agree with Ms. Porter that there are CNAs who serve as role models working throughout both acute and long term care. As she says in her article, “You know who they are — the ones who pack a clean uniform in a bag and bring to work with them when there are winter storms approaching, the ones who agree to work that one last shift you don’t have covered, those you know have your back, bringing you information you need to know but that others may be afraid to tell you.”
Keep reading to find out what happened to Stella Parrish and what advice Ms. Porter gives to those who supervise direct care workers. We think she’s right on the money! And, thank you to all the “Stella Parrish’s” out there who serve as role models, embodying all it means to be a professional certified nursing assistant!
In 1979, Nancy Ruschak began working as a certified nursing assistant. After 34 years, she continues to love her job. Currently, she works as a hospice aide, caring for the terminally ill and their families. Recently, Nancy was honored by her employer, Amedysis, as the Hospice Aide of the Year.
Her organization says that Nancy earned the award by demonstrating “clinical excellence with patients, positively influencing patients and families, and functioning as an outstanding member of the care team.”
About her patients, Nancy says, ““Everybody touches me. They all touch my heart, and I hope I touch their heart too.”
You can read more about Nancy and the work she does as a hospice aide here.
And, from all of us at Just for Nursing Assistants, congratulations to Nancy…and thank you for your decades of service!
This week, June 13th through June 19th, is the 36th Annual National Nursing Assistants Week. It’s a great time to let direct care givers know how much they are appreciated! That includes all the hardworking home health aides who take such good care of their clients–so that regardless of illness or age, they can stay in their own homes. Take a moment to hear how Nancy, a home health aide, describes her work:
THANK YOU Nancy…and home health aides everywhere!!
A HUGE thank you to nursing assistants everywhere for all you do for your clients! You are definitely the unsung heroes of healthcare!
For anyone who doesn’t know or understand the importance of what CNAs do, please take a moment to watch this short video:
Recently, Pamela Tabar, the Associate Editor for Long Term Living Magazine, wrote an article about the Olympic feats performed by caregivers. She begins her article with a humorous look at what events would make up a Caregiver Olympics, such as Wheelchair Slalom and Mad Bathroom Dash. However, at the heart of her message is this:
“Caregiving is a marathon and a passion. Like the Wide World of Sports catchphrase, the vocation includes both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The progress of yesterday can be erased by tomorrow.”
Ms. Tabar also says that nursing assistants:
- “possess incredible stamina and patience while enduring gruelling repetition: how to take the meds and what time it is and what’s for dinner and why no one came to visit this week.”
- “know that caregiving is a team effort—on every shift, at every facility. They support their colleagues physically and emotionally in order to combat high stress and high nurse burnout rates.”
- “come back each day knowing that they probably won’t receive the rewards they have earned through hard work and dedication. A heartfelt thanks would stretch far, but they usually don’t get that, either.”
We couldn’t agree more and we thank Ms. Tabar for her dedication to the professionalism of nursing assistants. Click here to read the complete article, entitled The Olympic Feats of Caregivers.
Martha Sloane, a certified nursing assistant at Fairview Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, shared her thoughts with us about her CNA career and why she loves her job so much. Here’s what Martha had to say:
Four days a week, I drive to a my job on Unit II at Fairview Commons. As I head to work, I anticipate the varied needs of my residents. I drive with a feeling of hope — that I will be able to make a difference in a resident’s life for that day, bringing them comfort, perhaps some laughter and, most of all, thorough and careful nursing care.
The unit I work on consists of a wonderful team of men and women. Their ages range from 20 to 60. You might think the age gap would make it difficult for us to work together. But that’s not the case! We work as a real team. Each CNA has a group for which they are responsible in addition to working with other CNAs when they need assistance. Because we know each other well enough we are able to arrange work according to each of our strengths and weaknesses. And, we share our knowledge and skills for resident care with each other.
My work as a CNA is tough – no doubt about it. It is non-stop from the time my shift begins. My job requires a great deal of physical and mental strength and excellent interpersonal skills:
- Physical because of the type of care required which means lots of resident lifting.
- Mental because of the variety of residents’ personalities and ailments and being alert to new symptoms a resident might express or that we notice.
- Interpersonal because I spend time reassuring each resident they are important and showing them that I am happy to see them.
Most of all, my job means providing good nursing care to each resident for whom I am responsible.
I work with some great nurses. They look out for resident safety and the safety of the us CNAs. They look, listen and investigate concerns that my fellow CNAs and I express about a resident’s condition and they assist us with procedures when we need an extra pair of hands or some reassurance.
What a good feeling it is to go home at the end of my shift and know I have made a difference in someone’s life, provided good care, perhaps shared a laugh or two or simply spent some time with residents holding their hands to assure them I am there for them!
Fairview Commons is an affiliate of Berkshire Healthcare Systems, the largest non-profit, post-acute care company in Massachusetts. Fairview Commons employees enjoy enhanced education and training opportunities and clearly defined paths for growth and development.
If you are interested in working with great people like Martha Sloane, please send your resume and cover note to: email@example.com
Working in the healthcare environment is unlike any other professional situation you will ever encounter. The medical field is stressful, fast paced, competitive, highly technical and constantly evolving. And, because human lives are at stake, those of us in healthcare shoulder a heavy responsibility. When all these factors combine, workers tend to feel powerless, stressed out, depressed and even angry. People who feel powerless and angry are more likely to assert misguided power by abusing others. That’s one reason why many healthcare environments are plagued by hostility, gossip, bullying and unhealthy competition—leading to a widespread culture of incivility.
Sadly, civility has been overlooked and undervalued for far too long among healthcare professionals—but now the secret is out. Studies have proven that a lack of workplace civility adds to medical errors, poor patient satisfaction, higher employee turnover, stress, burnout, bullying and higher healthcare costs for consumers.
Since the Joint Commission issued a statement on incivility and disruptive behaviors in 2009, survey after survey has revealed that nearly all healthcare workers have either witnessed or been the victim of incivility. While a small percentage filed costly lawsuits, the majority did nothing to report or resolve the matter. Why? Because that’s just the way things have always been.
We believe that the cyclical “shortage” of healthcare workers may, in fact, be a shortage of workers willing to work under these conditions—and we want to inspire you to make some changes.
Civility is the REAL healthcare reform our industry needs! Civility training in healthcare settings has the potential to improve patient care, strengthen team relationships and create an atmosphere that energizes and inspires those who are in it. Healthcare professionals who embrace civility are less likely to quit or “job hop,” and are less likely to burn out, bully or “eat their young!”So, if you feel burned out, beaten up, disrespected or just plain discouraged about your job in healthcare, this book is for you.
Whether you are a nurse, a CNA, a therapist, a social worker or some other member of the healthcare team, we are glad you have chosen a career in healthcare—and we want you to STAY!
Whether you are just entering the healthcare field or you’ve been providing healthcare services for years, a new book, The Real Healthcare Reform: How Embracing Civility Can Beat Back Burnout and Revive Your Healthcare Career, offers an easy to follow, step-by-step guide to changing your outlook, improving your professional relationships, and brightening your future in healthcare.
Whether you’d like to implement a full scale civility training program at your workplace or simply learn some strategies to improve your own professional outlook, The REAL Healthcare Reform provides the step-by-step action plan you need to put civility to work and resolve the toxic atmosphere that pollutes your workplace.
Pre-order your copy of The REAL Healthcare Reform today from the publisher, In the Know, or from Amazon. Your copy will ship by May 10th. To pre-order multiple copies (at a discounted rate) for your organization, please call us at 877-809-5515.
Tags: civility training, CNAs, culture of incivility, healthcare reform, healthcare workers, job burnout, nurses, professional relationships, The Joint Commission, workplace bullying, workplace incivility