Bye, bye CNA !
If life as a CNA or Patient Care Tech can be summed up in one word, it would be “exhausting”. It is a literal 12 straight hours moving on your feet, pulling from your back and lifting with your legs. You are an ant. You are expected to go go go and do do do for all 30 of the patients on your unit. If you’re fortunate, you may have a helper and it’ll be 15 patients, but don’t count on it.
6:45 am, get report on the pateints from the night Aide. 7am, hang I&O sheets for all patients, add your name to the white board, change the date. Say good morning to the early bird patients and ask if they need anything. Go get those patients the coffee or water that they’ve asked for. Also, help those who need help to the bathroom for their morning potty break. Don’t forget to change the poor man who has been sitting in his own feces becasue the night shift got lazy.
The Vocera chimes “Can you help 723 to the bathroom” …
Go help 723 to the bathroom, get him back to bed and make sure he’s hooked back up and the BP cuff is on, so that the nurse doesn’t have to come in here when she gets her vitals. His leads aren’t sticking, go get more and put them on him so that the Teletech doesn’t call you.
By 7:30am, you pray to God that no one has gotten their breakfast yet and you rush to gather your accucheck list and supplies.
Vocera chimes”733 can’t find his phone.”
Go grab 733’s phone from under her pillow and smile nicely at her. Start from the top of your list and go room to room pricking fingers and writing down numbers, up to 10+ patients on average. Don’t forget to call the nurse if it’s over 150. She’s probably going to ask you again, instead of just checking her computer, so make sure you write everything down.
While you’re getting your sugars, be perceptive. Notice the bed bound patients and realize that many of them probably can’t order their own breakfast and may not be able to feed themselves. You’ll have to order all of their meals and feed them.
Vocera chimes : “Can you help 723 to the bathroom, again”
Go help 723 to the bathroom.
Stop your mission to help one of the good nurses who needs help to change her patients brief. Run and grab a Mepilex for his bed sore. Help turn the patient and put the mepilex on.
Continue on to help 723 to the bathroom. Meanwhile 735 has pulled the toilet light. Ignore the toilet light because SURELY somone else is also working. Walk by the nurses on their phones to get to 723. You took too long, he’s already urinated in the bed . Change his sheets.
716’s food has arrived and you need to feed her. As she takes her first sip of coffee she starts to cough. Aspiration. Stop feeding and notify the nurse. The nurse insists that they’ve already passed their swallow evaluation and you’re clearly JUST an Aide. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Guiltily continue to feed the patient and accept the fact that it isn’t your fault if she aspirates. You’re just an Aide and your observations are incorrect.
Try not to remember last year when you gave CPR to an 11 yr old who was coded, for 15 minutes by yourself. Don’t remind yourself that you’ve called Rapid Response because you know the signs of a stroke and the patient at Baylor was obviously stroking. Try to forget the tachacardic prisoner you laid on the floor of the shower at 227 bpm while you called a Rapid Response….
You’re valuable. You are… But, don’t think about it. keep working.
Finish up feeding the patient and start compiling your bath list.
Walk room to room and collect breakfast trays, write down what they ate and drank, offer bed baths or showers and organize your list because everyone needs to be bathed. You must somehow fit 15-30 washings into your 12 hours with all the other duties.
A nurse calls to interrupt you demanding that 706 definately needs a bath after breakfast. You reasure the nurse that her patient’s bath has already been discussed with the patient and it’ll be done after lunch when the patient feels most comfortable doing it.
Go do a random bladder scan on a patient you noticed hasn’t urinated all day. 900 ml , call nurse for a foley catheter.The nurse delegates the foley catheter insertion to you. Do that. Then pack up that patient’s neighbor and push them to the 5th floor, they’re down graded.
Complete as many bed baths as possible by yourself, the nurses are very busy. Get a bunch done before your random 10am blood sugar check. Finish a few more before noon bloodsugar checks.
As a rarity, you request a nurse who is clearly not busy to help you complete a bed bath on one of her own patients who is mildly combative. Better safe than sorry. The nurse disregards your safety and tells you that it isn’t “appropriate” for an RN to help an Aide with their bed bath. You are flabberghasted by the ungratefulness of this nurses attitude. But, you’re an ant. No one cares how you feel. Your manager responds with ” What am I supposed to do about it” and “The nurses complain about your attitude, maybe you should smile.”
Smile. Even though you thought you already were.
It’s 5pm , time to empty foley bags, empty trash, empty laundry and collect all 15-30 of those lovely I&O sheets, separate them and hand them to the nurses. Becasue if you don’t, they’ll just stay up there. They’re only used if the nurse doesn’t have to go and get them themselves.
After 12 hours of this basic routine, you get to go home. Then, because you agreed to work weekends, they work you every single weekend all weekend. 3 days in a row every week.
But, not anymore. I had to go …..
I moved on to a job where I can use my brain and I can use this Associates in Science degree that I’m working so hard for. People value my opinion and recognize how intelligent I am.
I’m not a nurse, I never want to be a nurse.
I’m a skin care therapist, a licensed Esthetician, a waxologist, a spiritual healer, a science major and a seeker of knowledge. People feel wonderful after leaving my treatment room. And I LOVE what I do.
For me, being a CNA wasn’t fulfilling. I ADORED my patients and they loved me. I cared about them and I was patient and kind. I know that when I was their Aide, they were in the best hands. Baylor taught me SO MUCH about medicine and health care. The time I spent there is unparalleled.
I hope that anyone with the idea to go through the RN program starts as an Aide. It will give you an entirely different view of the hospital setting. You’re paid the least but you have the absolute most patient interaction. You matter the most. Your energy and your spirit is what keeps those patients calm and hopeful during the worst days of their lives.
It’s a calling.