As a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, you hold a very specific role within the medical team. When it comes to patient care, CNAs are responsible for not only assisting in patient care, but supporting RNs and other medical staff in many ways. Due to the nature of this work, Hospital CNA workers undergo a vast amount of training.
Once your CNA training is complete, the real work begins: finding your first hospital CNA job.
Much like finding any job, there are several steps you must take to not only ensure you find the best hospital for your personal and professional work style, but study what to expect once hired. The following tips are designed to help streamline your first year working in a hospital. Since the first 360 days of being an employed CNA are notoriously challenging, use these tips as a starting point to creating your personal first year survival plan.
Tip #1 | Understand Your Support System
One of the first steps you must take when hired by a hospital is to uncover the in-house support structure. The best way to learn about the different levels of support for a new Certified Nursing Assistant is to ask your Nurse Manager about the emotional, social and clinical support systems.
In many cases, this translates into having designated senior nurses available during your shift to debrief specific expectations regarding work tasks and situations. For example, breaking down the chain of command within a specific unit. There should be a specific procedure for new nurses to receive necessary support following a new experience, such as dealing with the death of a patient.
Tip #2 | Spend Time Observing the Unit
As you start your new position, spend as much time as possible simply observing the professional and personal flow of your unit. Remember, you’re walking into an established system, which has a set method of interacting and performing tasks. While you may understand the technical requirements of maneuvering throughout a unit, failure to pause, observe and react based upon these observations can lead to unsavory experiences. Understanding the interpersonal dynamics of your new workplace is just as imperative as learning the clinical methodology of a particular unit.
Tip #3 | Always Uncover First-Year Hospital CNA Turnover
During your initial interview, one of the most important questions you must ask is the CNA turnover rate over the past several years. While there are some exceptions to every rule, if the hospital features a first-year CNA and nurse turnover rate that’s greater than 20%, then it’s a pretty good indicator that there are issues. Generally, the higher a turnover rate, the greater the likelihood that the hospital has serious deficits in how either the entire hospital, or the actual unit, treats and handles first-year CNAs and Registered Nurses.
One of the most effective research tips capable of derailing this awkward conversations is online research. Spend time reading forums and discussion threads regarding a particular hospital. If you’re unable to find any local forums, turn to LinkedIn. Search for previous employees and contact them with your questions. In most cases, a previous employee is more than happy to provide at least a brief summarization of their experience.