Adjusting to Your First Job as a CNA


Adjusting to your new life as a CNA can be tough.  As you leave the safety net of supervised care giving and are presented with your first patient assignment, the waves of doubt creep in.  Even the best of CNA programs cannot fully prepare you for that first stressful day on the job.  But you will succeed and excel as a CNA if you can redirect those first day jitters into forming a plan of action.

One of the best ways to take control of your assignment is to become informed at the beginning of your shift.  Each patient has unique needs and to safely care for each one, you will need to know their physical limitations and doctor’s orders.  Who can walk independently?  Who requires assistance to transfer and what type of assistance do they need?  Who has special orders for tests or procedures?  Who requires vital sign checks or blood sugar testing?  Who will need help with bathing and dressing?  Who has special diet orders or will need assistance at mealtime?  Are you assigned to patients who have behavioral or safety issues and, if so, how will you manage their specific needs?  Is there anyone who requires close supervision or monitoring due to poor vision, hearing loss, risk for falls or an unstable condition?  These questions must be answered by the previous CNA or your supervising nurse.  If your new place of employment does not offer a beginning shift report, look for a way to make it happen.  Many healthcare facilities will provide you with a handwritten or computer generated assignment sheet.  Use this to help you develop a “to do list” from your report.  If an assignment sheet  is not available, you can make your own using columns for I & O, vital signs, blood sugars, diet, ADL assistance, specimen collection and activity needs. Make a special note for tasks that must be done at a specific time and for any special patient care you must provide during your shift.

As you enter the work force, CNA certificate in hand, you can rest assured there will be challenging days.  You will learn to manage difficult assignments and will begin to welcome them.  Your commitment to managing your work with competence and compassion will soon set you apart as a leader on your CNA team.  The key to getting started in that direction is to begin each day by taking a few minutes organize your care.

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