What is a CNA?


When we are sick, most of us appreciate a kind word and a caring touch.  When our health concerns are serious and we are forced to rely on the competence of others, we all want a trained professional at our bedside.  Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are there at every stage of our life, providing precisely that level of expertise.

CNA’s are often the first to greet us when we arrive at the doctor’s office, hospital or nursing home.  CNA’s are specially trained to evaluate their patient’s condition using a series of assessment tools.  The “vital signs” include measurements of the body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.  So named the “vital” signs because readings fall within a predictable range when we are well, they are often the first clue that something isn’t right with our health.  CNA’s are trained to measure vital signs, to test blood sugar and blood oxygen levels, and to recognize abnormal symptoms.  They know when a reading or symptom needs to be reported to the nurse in charge.  CNA’s are trained to detect when and how to perform CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), to provide range of motion exercises, to monitor and protect the skin, and to safely transfer and assist patients.  CNA’s are also trained to collect lab specimens and to prepare patients for surgeries and diagnostic tests.  After passing a proficiency exam, a CNA has the tools required to become a valuable member of the healthcare team, contributing to early prevention, detection and treatment of sickness and disease.  They are the “eyes and ears” and often the “first responders” in the healthcare arena.

While having competent caretakers is important, we also want to know that the person taking care of us is concerned for our wellbeing.  The CNA is the person who answers your call light when you need assistance or have a question.  The CNA helps you safely walk when you are weak and wipes your forehead when you feel sick.  The CNA patiently feeds patients when they are temporarily or permanently unable to do so, and bathes them when they are at their most vulnerable. CNA’s are a dedicated, hard working and invaluable part of the medical team. Performing in the fast paced, high pressure world of today’s healthcare world isn’t easy.  To do so with a smile and a kind word takes the devotion certified nursing assistants are committed to.

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