Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Confusing First Clinical Experience

Hello there! Long time no post. I know. Shame on me. I have been SLAMMED with school/work/kids/sickness for the past few weeks. Only a few more weeks to go until this crazy semester is over then it is on to the next one (which will hopefully be a bit more relaxing)

I had my first clinical experience for my CNA program yesterday and I left feeling sad but at the same time elated. It was actually a very strange feeling.

I have heard stories about CNA’s. How they are lazy, give bad care, and just don’t care about their job or the people they are caring for. The facility that we are doing our clinicals at is a VERY nice facility. When you walk in you get the feeling you are in an expensive hotel rather than a nursing home. I mistakenly thought this facility was going to be different. Boy was I wrong.

The CNA I was assigned to was absolutely terrible. I know it isn’t my place to judge after only three hours with her, but I don’t have to be an experienced CNA to know how awful she really is at her job. First of all, she told me to go feed one of her patients. I sat there and chatted with this lady as I was feeding her while CNAss sat in the corner on her cell phone the entire time. When I finished up, CNAss walked out of the room and left me there alone. The resident asked me for her cell phone. I tried to find it but couldn’t and went to hunt down CNAss to see if she knew where it would be. I finally found her shoving a huge piece of cake in her mouth at the nurse’s station and when I asked her about the phone she told me to look on the nightstand as it should be on the charger. I go back in, find the charger but not the phone and in comes CNAss. She rips off this lady’s sheets, throws up her gown completely exposing this poor lady to everyone that walked by (yes, the door and privacy curtain were WIDE open) and says “Mrs. So&so, where’s your phone? We don’t know where it is. I guess your daughter took it. Take it up with her when she comes in”. I was shocked but didn’t know what to do and sheepishly hung my head and walked out of the room with CNAss.

Next, we run into this little old man strolling through the hall in his wheelchair. CNAss starts chatting with him. She was actually pretty friendly and I thought, maybe she just had a bad moment. We collect trays from the residents rooms and when we were done, she again walks up to this man, bumps me on the shoulder, says “watch this” and says to him “Mr. Confused, do you remember talking to me today” He looks at her and says “No, when did we talk? Who are you?” and she starts laughing and walks away.

Finally, she takes me into a room to get a resident dressed and into his wheelchair. She goes in, rips off his sheets, starts rudely quizzing him on what he is going to wear, rolls him over to find he had wet himself and rolls her eyes while letting out a huge sigh. She mumbles something about needing the wipes and again, walks out of the room with me standing there holding this man on his side, door wide open, residents naked butt hanging out all over the place (yes, I covered him). We get him cleaned up and in his wheelchair (the whole time she is laughing and mumbling something about paying her cell phone bill) and she disappears, yet again. I hunt her down, again, and ask her where this gentleman needs to go. “I don’t know, wherever he wants” was her response. I go back in, ask him where he would like to go and take him there. CNAss is nowhere to be found so I find the linen closet, gather up new sheets and start changing and cleaning his bed. His roommate was in there reading a paper and asks me to open the curtains and the blinds and close the door. I say “sure thing, I would be happy to” do as he requests and get back to changing the bed. He puts his paper down, looks at me and says “I just have to tell you, you are such a joy to be around. You have really made my day”.

That was the point I started feeling confused.

It was such a nice thing to hear and he actually ended up making my day but I barely said two words to this man. If me just being nice makes his day what does that say about the care he is getting there? Is he normally not treated with courtesy and respect? What about everyone else there? From what I have seen, there was no respect to be found.

I left with a smile on my face because I found that I really liked working with the residents a lot more than I thought I would. I was so proud of myself for not freezing up and being able to get in there and do what I needed to do. They were so sweet and it really made me feel good to be able to help them, but I also wanted to cry. I HATED seeing the way they were treated. I couldn’t believe that there would be people working there that acted that way. I just don’t understand why you would do that job if you hated it so much. I mean, you could probably make more money working at Wal-Mart than being a CNA and not have to work as hard. It isn’t fair to the residents to get a nasty CNA like that.

I was excited to do clinicals at this facility because it was such a nice place and I knew they would possibly be hiring a few of us students after we were tested, but now, I’m not even sure I want to do this anymore if I have to work with people like that.


  1. Ugh. That's so terrible. :(

    I have a suspicion - nothing to base it on but gut feelings, though - that a lot of the truly caring, dedicated people don't stay CNAs long-term but go on to nursing or other fields where there's a better paycheck and more opportunities to advance.

    At its core, being a CNA involves very little training (relative to many other jobs, at least) and many job opportunities, regardless of attitude or motivation... with customers whose voices are often silenced, at least in LTC... surefire way to pull in a whole lot of bad apples. :-/

  2. Wow. Just wow.

    I wish I could say this surprises me, but it doesn't. I have no desire to work with the older generations, but if that's my only option post grad, you better believe I'll do my job well, with a smile on my face, and with respect for my patients.

    Honestly, I'd say something to the supervisor after your experience. But, at least at the end of the day, you know your services were the best the patients received and that it didn't go unappreciated.

    I'm proud of you. Even if you have slacked in blogging and I've missed you terribly.

  3. CNAs who act like this get away with it because there is minimal if any supervision of them in LTC. The good CNAs who do their job well and with respect to the patients/residents are usually the ones who go on to receive a nursing degree. Being a CNA can be very physically demanding, low paying work.

  4. Just because it is low paying work or physically demanding doesn't mean that what they do should not be done well and with respect to the elderly clients. I have worked with the elderly, NEVER treated them like that and actually enjoyed it....I would report them. Keep notes with specifics (no clients names necessary). Then write a letter and follow up. There are laws for elder abuse. No one should be treated in that way and those CNAs don't deserve that job.

  5. My grandfather had significant medical issues for the last several years of his life (he died at age 98!) and thus lived in a nursing home in our hometown. We were regular visitors and observed that while many of the CNAs were excellent, a few were not. Though his health was poor, my grandfather remained sharp until the end and regularly told us which CNAs were doing a good job... he'd say "This is Mary. She lives over near the post office in Hometown. She has a little boy named Joey. She's such a nice girl." We really appreciated knowing the CNAs took the time to chat with him.

    I agree with those who commented that many caring, involved CNAs probably do go on to nursing school. I'd never have discouraged them from doing so, as we need fine, caring nurses, too - especially in elder care.

  6. Bad news: Welcome to healthcare.

    Good news: Not everyone is like that.

    Better news: YOU can make the difference in peoples lives by just being yourself.

    Just keep doing what you are doing and it will get better and you'll do fantastic.

  7. What I learned in my 12 days of working in LTC: CNAs rock the casbah!! LPNs are their supervisor. LPNs just pass meds and do treatments. I consider everyone who works at a facility is part of team. I almost would rather be a CNA except the pay is so much less than a LPNs.

    You had a great lesson in 'how not to act'!!

  8. This post made me cry! What are these people thinking? And why do they still have jobs?
    At least you know that even the smallest of your basic courtesies are making a difference to the patient when you are working with others like her!