Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) care for patients by helping them with their daily tasks of living, ensuring their comfort, and keeping an eye on any changes in behavior or physical health. Because they spend quite a lot of time with patients, they are able to notice changes they can quickly report to the care team.
National Nursing Assistants Week begins on June 16 with National Career Nurse Assistant’s Day and launches a week of celebration to honor nursing assistants and to heighten awareness about this career path.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for nursing assistants is estimated to grow at about 8 percent annually between 2020 and 2030. But as the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cause unpredictable fluctuations in patients who are receiving care in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, personal homes, or long-term care facilities, the need for qualified CNAs remains strong.
A day in this career path is dynamic and never slow. The job involves a lot of physical activity, some of it strenuous, and interaction with many patients as they provide various hands-on care and support. Nursing assistants may spend time with a patient to help them with what they need, to assist with any daily tasks, to meet family members, and to learn a little more about the person behind the patient. With that kind of casual connection, professionals in this role have the ability to make a positive impact on the patient’s stay and recovery process.
Many nursing assistants enjoy their work and remain in the role throughout their careers. As with any career, over time, career nursing assistants become the experts on varied aspects of healthcare and relationships with patients. They become the role models and mentors for the new nursing assistants and offer advice and guidance that is only gained through on-the-job experience. And long-term employees provide a sense of security to patients who enjoy seeing interacting with familiar faces–especially when they are in a long-term care facility or if they are returning to facilities because of recurring health issues.
CNAs also have first-hand experience of how this specialty is so essential to patient care and how improvements in the field help both workers and patients thrive. CNAs can become workplace advocates for their role and their patients by proposing advances in workflows for the CNA team. They may also choose to share their work stories with a broader audience–even throughout the state or federal government–and advocate for practice improvements or better policies to help patients and staff alike.
Nursing assistants (NA) have been essential members on healthcare teams throughout the COVID-19 crisis. And while the pandemic continues to spread around the world, National Nursing Assistants Day on June 18 is timed to thank nursing assistants for the care they provide.
For 43 years, the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants has sponsored an entire week to celebrate those who choose this career. This year, that week runs from June 18 to 25 and is being marked as “Celebrate in Place” as many events have moved away from in-person formats.
According to Genevieve Gipson, RN, Med, RNC, and director of the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, the theme for the week is kindness. NAs are encouraged to focus on a different aspect of kindness throughout the week and focus on events and projects that can continue to have an impact over the course of the year.
The National Association of Health Care Assistants seeks to elevate and promote the professional NA career . Working on teams and with other healthcare providers delivers more consistent and better patient care and nursing assistants are part of the team.
Nursing assistants and certified nursing assistants perform the routine patient care that often allows opportunities to talk with patients and learn more about them. Whether a patient is in a long-term care facility and sees a nursing assistant almost daily or in a short-term hospital stay and only has brief interactions, NAs and CNAs can make an enormous impact on the patient’s general care. By getting to know a patient and listening to them, nursing assistants can pick up on subtle physical or emotional changes or on preferences that could help fine tune such necessities as a preferred meal plan or understand family relationships.
NAs work under the supervision of registered professional nurses and perform duties that can range from basic patient care including bathing, feeding, toileting, grooming, dressing, and answering patient calls for help. They are generally responsible for things that help keep patients comfortable such as changing linens or checking bandages.
NAs can increase their training and competency with certification. Each state determines its own certification requirements, so plan to look into this additional step in whichever state you plan to practice. The extra certification can take a couple of months to complete, but offers additional skills that will be used every day.
The impact of NA-provided patient care can’t be understated. Because of their close interaction, they often help patients who are lonely and can comfort those who may need companionship. During the COVID-19 crisis, many facilities restricted visitors and so healthcare teams were the only people many patients could see for months. Having a friendly person to talk with calms nerves, staves off loneliness, and provides a much-needed human connection.
Celebrate National Nursing Assistants Day and National Nursing Assistants Week and be proud of the much appreciated care you provide.
As part of the nursing team, nursing assistants often rely on their experience and the expertise of their colleagues to help patients in the ways that work best for them. Based on their long-term knowledge and interaction with patients, they are able to discern the slight nuances in providing one-on-one care to each patient.
Nursing assistants learn how different patients can be moved most comfortably and what foods can be digested most easily, for instance. They understand the emotional triggers for patients and the topics or situations that bring calm or comfort. They understand how to encourage patients in the ways they will respond to best. All of this important information is passed on to the entire medical team to help put together the best care plan.
In addition to the hands-on care, nursing assistants often provide essential and cherished companionship for patients. Because they interact with them so frequently, they become an important social aspect in the day-to-day care activities. They listen for vital clues to how a patient is feeling and can provide reassurance for typical issues or raise the alarm when something seems off or unusual. It’s often those smaller changes that can be a tip-off for a larger problem brewing.
With such frequent check-ins, nursing assistants advocate for their patients and have an important voice on the the care team. Nursing assistants who are in the same facility for a long time or who are career nursing assistant are also a source of stability for patients in times when everything else can be changing. A familiar face is welcome and reassuring.
As the national population continues to see the Baby Boomer population age and also live longer, the need for nursing assistants is growing. According to the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, another 700,000 jobs will need to be filled to meet the demand over the next 25 years. And nursing assistants can work in a variety of settings, from nursing homes to emergency departments to hospice care.
National Nursing Assistants Week is an excellent time to recognize the role nursing assistants play in your care team’s work. From physicians to patients, they fill a critical need.
For 41 years, nursing assistants have celebrated National Nursing Assistants Week during June. Career Nursing Assistants Day on June 14 kicks off the week of honoring the nursing assistants who care for elderly or disabled patients, especially in long-term care facilities, hospice care, home care, or nursing homes.
According to the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, nursing assistants are a vital connection to patients as they help them with the basic care and activities of daily living. They help patients feel cared for and comfortable, while also providing the essential hands-on care that keeps patients healthy. While helping patients do things like bathe, eat, or gain movement, they are also able to form trusting relationships. Nursing assistants spend so much time with patients they are able to get to know them and learn about their lives.
When patients are away from the comforts of their home or far away from family and friends, nursing assistant s give a companionship so necessary for feeling better. They provide a gentle care from which patients and residents feel respect and a sense of belonging. When nursing assistants greet them by name and ask about their health or their physical ailments, they are taking an assessment of how the patient is doing on a basic physical level. Those are assessments that are essential to the medical team that oversees the patient.
But because of their close proximity to people, nursing assistants are also able to ask about the favorite foods of patients or residents, their upbringing, how they celebrated milestones, and family and friends who were once or are still close to them. They may get to know the visitors who come often and are able to hear and share stories with them. With that kind of knowledge, nursing assistants have many topics of conversation they can use to engage patients. Their familiar presence becomes reassuring and comforting as a patient’s moods may go up or down or as their physical discomfort increases or decreases.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for this role will continue to rise at a faster-than-average rate. Those looking to get into this career field will find plenty of opportunity to offer compassionate and skilled care to populations that needs it most. The median salary of $27,500 annually will fluctuate with location and demand, and you’ll need to pass a competency exam. Like other jobs in the medical or care field, the work can by both physically and emotionally demanding, but the rewards of caring for patients and making a difference in their lives is great.
Help celebrate National Nursing Assistants Week by noting and thanking nursing assistants for the tremendous work they do.
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