As the global economy continues to struggle, few industries have excelled as well as healthcare. Demand for careers in hospitals, clinics, and other wellness facilities over the past several years has remained steady regardless of economic conditions. But while many consumers struggling with their own finances find this to be a lucrative field, their choices also seem limited. Many healthcare positions require years of expensive college coursework, limiting the number of viable career options. One choice, however, has risen above the rest among job seekers: becoming a certified nursing assistant.
Certified nursing assistant (CNA) careers are quickly becoming as popular as they are in-demand. CNAs play a crucial role in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, and the need for these professionals continues to climb. And unlike many healthcare positions, CNA training can usually be completed in less than one year. Newly trained professionals will also find clinics willing to hire them with little or no experience, a rare sentiment in today’s job market. But despite the benefits, such a career isn’t for everyone. Just as the opportunities are unique, so are the demands. So just what does it take to be a certified nursing assistant?
It’s often said that patience is a virtue, and this couldn’t be a more fair assessment than with CNAs. Often, CNAs find themselves working with the elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. These patients suffer from a number of health issues, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They may lack coherence and find it difficult to follow directions, requiring CNAs to repeat themselves frequently and guide their patients along. Patients may also become delusional and require restraint on occasion. And the frustration doesn’t end with patients. Close family members may also feel concerned about the level of treatment and become quick to criticize the caretakers. CNAs must be prepared to remain calm and patient when the circumstances surrounding patients and their families become difficult.
The work set before a CNA isn’t always pleasant, as they must care for those unable to care for themselves. In addition to feeding and transporting patients, they will need to clean up after them frequently. CNAs regularly accompany patients to the restroom and will often have to take care of their needs before dressing them. Elderly patients are more susceptible to illness, exposing their caretakers to unique sicknesses and infections. Responsibilities of this nature are not for the faint of heart, and many would simply find them unbearable.
One of the greatest challenges facing a CNA is the ability to care for and about patients without growing too close. They will often work with patients whose lives are coming to an end and will have to deal with death frequently. They must be prepared to provide emotional care as needed, yet still be able to let them go when necessary. This is a very difficult task that catches many new CNAs off-guard. It will often become a normal part of the job, and strong emotional stability is necessary.
Since a CNA will often need to transport patients and their belongings, this position can be physically demanding. Candidates should ensure that they are healthy enough to push heavy patients in wheelchairs. They will also need to reposition patients on beds and seats when necessary. Many clinics provide tools designed to help the CNA with heavy lifting, but this won’t always be the case. CNAs will also spend a majority of their work day walking and standing with few breaks for sitting.
For candidates who remain unsure of whether they have what it takes to be a certified nursing assistant, many hospitals and clinics allow volunteers to help them with their daily duties. This provides an excellent opportunity to see firsthand what the position involves and gain feedback from professionals in the field before making a long term commitment.
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