A Day in the Life of a Hospital CNA

A nurse aide working in a hospital is normally assigned to a specific unit and most of the time she will only work on that unit. Sometimes a CNA may be asked to replace another coworker on a different unit if they previously worked there and are familiar with a particular hospital floor. The tasks assigned to a nurse aide in emergency room, intensive care and medical-surgical units are the same, but some environments may be more overwhelming than others especially if the CNA has never worked in a hospital. Emergency room can become quite hectic at times, as can the intensive care department, especially when compared to lower key units such as medical-surgical floors. A hospital may choose to rotate nurse aides through several of these units in order to familiarize them with the different settings and environments.

A nurse assistant working on a labor and delivery unit or postpartum floor is comfortable with providing basic care to female patients who have delivered an infant. The CNA working on this unit may also rotate to other hospital units, especially medical-surgical ones. A nurse aide working in a hospital's emergency department will encounter patients of many different ages, from children to the elderly, and will develop valuable skills of providing care to each age group. In intensive care units the nurse aide assists registered nurses who take care of acutely ill clients. These patients are usually hooked up to ventilators, heart and oxygen monitors, and receive many types of intravenous medications as well as parenteral nutrition. The nurse aide is guided and helped by the registered nurse in providing complete baths and other basic care to these critically ill clients.

Every nurse aide starts the work day with an assignment, which specifies the room numbers where their clients are located as well as the registered nurse they need to report to. In a hospital environment it is normal for the CNA finishing up her shift to give the oncoming nurse aide a brief report regarding each client's status, and this is usually referred to as going on “rounds”. Unlike clients in long-term care who are residents of a nursing home for an extended period of time, hospitalized patients are discharged as soon as they are stable. The brief report a CNA gives to another CNA during rounds prepares the nurse aide to better care for a given patient. In addition to the heads-up received from a fellow CNA, a nurse aide will also speak with the registered nurse to find out about any special needs their clients might have. The shift consists of measuring and recording vital signs at certain time intervals, assisting with toileting and bathing, making the beds, measuring and recording output, answering call lights, and providing the patient with clean gowns, linens, and hygienic supplies.

Some hospitalized clients may require special supervision and monitoring. When a nurse aide provides care for diabetic patient, the CNA will use a special blood glucose monitor to test blood glucose levels. These tests are usually performed by the nurse assistant at the beginning and end of their shift. Furthermore, the nurse aide will ensure that diabetic patients follow the required diet by monitoring the foods they receive. Keep in mind that only some hospitalized patients need complete hygiene care. Most of the clients are able to use the bathroom and perform activities of daily living as long as the nurse aide provides them with hygienic supplies.

Nursing home patients on the other hand are highly dependent on the care provided by the CNA from washing to eating and turning. One of the duties a nurse aide will frequently perform in the hospital is transferring patients to other units and helping with discharging. Transferring a client who cannot ambulate requires some physical effort since the CNA needs to push the client's bed to the new location. Even though they have wheels, these beds might be hard to maneuver for someone who has never performed this task.

Before a client is discharged, the CNA gathers the resident's property and belongings in one place to be inventoried by the nurse and if needed, provides a wheelchair and escorts the client. A nurse aide working in a hospital does not have ample time to get to know a particular client. In a long-term care facility the CNA cares for the same patient over a long period of time and thus learns each client's needs, likes and dislikes as well as the patient's family. Studies have shown that this type of knowledge results in a better quality of care for clients. The CNA employed in a hospital must be a quick learner and always strive to achieve continuity of care for every patient.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions

Kathleen S. on August 08, 2014 at 04:22 PM
Can you share any tips or advice regarding CNA job interviews?

Admin on August 10, 2014 at 08:41 AM
Please take a look at the Job Interview Tips page for advice that will help you prepare for a certified nursing assistant job interview.

I am trying to get some info on where to start in the health care profession. Is it better to start as a CNA or LVN?

I am a pre-nursing student. Is it true that becoming a CNA and getting the experience, really helps you with clinicals in nursing school?

How can I tell if my CNA certificate is active? If it is not active how do I go about renewing it?

How can I get a copy of my CNA certification?

My CNA certification has recently expired. Who do I need to contact for certification renewal?

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Nurse Aide Study Tips

Nurse aide students are always looking for tips and ways to get the most out of their study time. There are a few strategies you can follow to ensure complete success in nurse aide classes as well as on the CNA test. On top of our advice list is to always be present for your classes, laboratory, and clinical experiences. Not only should you arrive to all your nurse aide classes on time, but you must do the reading and studying required for each class.

Adequate preparation will lead to success in all your courses as well as on the CNA certification test. Practice the nurse aide skills you are being thought until you become comfortable and familiar with every task you need to perform. Many nurse aide students have found that practicing and studying with another person enrolled in the same nurse aide training program makes a big difference in how easy concepts are grasped and skills conquered.

Ask lots of questions in class and throughout clinical training. Instructors are there to help you understand and master the knowledge and duties of a nurse aide. Job orientation can be a hectic time, and to help yourself you need not only ask questions but also take your own notes. In a small pocket notebook write down everything of importance and reference it later to make sure you assimilate the information at your own pace. Being alert, open to new information, and having a positive attitude are also the keys to success in your new career.

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