Monday, January 13, 2014

Should You Never Ask a CNA To....?

I became a nurse because of the nurses I worked with when I was a nursing assistant at a small rural hospital during my high school years.  I was not certified - I got on-the-job training from some spectacular nursing assistants and nurses.  I needed a job because the hours at my after-school pharmacy job no longer worked for my life so I applied and got hired at the local hospital.  I had never even considered nursing, but working with and watching the nurses at that hospital convinced me that nursing was the career for me.

I have nothing but the highest amount of respect for Certified Nursing Assistants.  My only complaint about CNAs in general is that I do not think they realize their worth or importance.  Nurses cannot get their work done without the CNAs on their team and patients appreciate CNAs so much.  The influence of a CNA on a patient's experience is profound.

This week on Facebook, an article has been floating around which discusses the fact that nurses should never ask a CNA to do something out of sheer personal convenience for the nurse.  You can read the article here.

While I agree to a major extent with this idea, I also think that it's not a simple issue.  There is a significant amount of work that a nurse does that cannot be readily identified except by another nurse.  I have heard nursing assistants complain about a nurse who is asking the CNA to do something while the nurse "sits at the desk".  What a CNA might not realize is how very involved some of the paperwork is that needs to get done and "sitting at the desk" might be what the nurse needs to do at the moment to complete a discharge plan, medication reconciliation, or coordination of care.  And, frankly, the paperwork needs to be right.  Patients lives depend on it.

I remember when I was a new nurse that my manager's job looked pretty easy.  She spent a lot of time walking around and talking to the staff, or so it seemed to me.  Then I became a manager and realized that it is an incredibly hard job without much reward.  It is never a good idea, I realized, to make judgements about a job which I do not have the credentials or experience to perform.

The example given in the article does make the nurse sound as if she is avoiding work that is unpleasant or difficult and, of course, that is never good.  When it comes to providing care to challenging patients, physically and/or mentally, it's best to employ the team approach.  Nurses and CNAs should work together, we are all on the same team. 

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