As a nurse, you’re going to be working with many healthcare professionals. And one of the most important people on your team that you will be working with is the nursing assistant. These individuals are your eyes and ears!
Nursing assistants may be called by various names, such as the nurse’s aide, nursing assistant, patient care tech, and so forth. These titles will vary depending on the employer.
The nursing assistant has a very hard job that is often underappreciated. These individuals work long hours that require a lot of bending, walking, standing, and lifting, which places the nursing assistant at risk for injuries.
Furthermore, CNAs care for a wide variety of patient populations that are suffering from various illnesses. According the CDC.gov, 35% of nursing assistants reported physical injuries resulting from aggression by residents. So, overall nursing assistants have it rough, which is why this profession has a high turnover rate (meaning individuals don’t stay long in this position….they quit and go elsewhere).
Therefore, as the nurse it is essential we know how to treat the nursing assistant. Let’s talk about some tips on how to treat the CNA!
- Be HUMBLE as the nurse!
Like I pointed out in my delegation video, we all have different roles in healthcare and just because you have delegation authority over an individual does NOT make your personally superior to them.
For example, a doctor or nurse practitioner has delegation authority over the nurse, but they are not superior to the nurse on a human level. We all have different skills, training, and talents for each role we fulfill. Therefore, we should work as a team to accomplish our mission of providing patient care without ego.
As the nurse when delegating to the nursing assistant, always do it in a professional matter with respect. In addition, do NOT over delegate. If the nursing assistant is overwhelmed with other tasks, do the task yourself. Always take the time to say “please can you do this” or “thank you very much for doing that for me”.
- Make the nursing assistant feel like they’re a part of the team!
If the nursing assistant knows that their role matters and feels like a part of the team, they will communicate with you more efficiently and this will lead to better patient care.
Sadly, as a nurse, I’ve seen the breakdown of nurse/CNA communication. What happens when this occurs is that the nurse will do his or her own thing, while the nursing assistant proceeds with his or her own tasks all the while both individuals never communicate with each other. This, in turns, leads to inadequate patient care.
You have to have good communication with the nursing assistant because they are your eyes and ears. These individuals spend more one-on-one time with your patients. They give patient’s baths, help them to the bathroom, ambulate, eat etc. and this allows for them to notice things you may not as the nurse. For example, many patients will confide important signs and symptoms they are experiencing to the nursing assistant that they may not tell you or the nursing assistant may see a breakdown in skin integrity while bathing the patient that you missed during your assessment.
Therefore, if you foster teamwork and the let nursing assistant know you value their input, the CNA may experience higher job satisfaction while the patient receives better care.
- Demonstrate Servant Leadership!
There is a difference between being a leader vs. a boss. Leaders lead by example, while bosses just really bark out orders.
As the nurse be a servant leader and help the nursing assistant when they need it. For example, if the CNA has 5 patients and all those patients are currently sitting in stool, ask the nursing assistant which patients you can change for them. Don’t let them do those tasks alone!
This not only demonstrates servant leadership while providing excellent patient care, but it shows the nursing assistant that you are willing to help out. Therefore, in the future, when you’re in a bind the nursing assistant will be more willing to help you out!
- Show Appreciation!
Always take time to show the nursing assistant you appreciate their role and the tasks they perform. If you see the CNA doing a good job, take time to acknowledge it and thank them.
Many times when a patient leaves the hospital, who will receive the most praise and glory? The doctor or the nurse…..but what about that nursing assistant who was at the bedside helping the patient eat, changing the linens, helping dress the patient, cleaning up emesis, stool, urine etc. Unfortunately, these individuals are sometimes overlooked, but as the nurse you want to make sure the nursing assistant knows you see their hard work and appreciate it.
Take time to let your nurse manager know how awesome the nursing assistant is, nominate them for “employee of the month” or do something special for that individual.
Being a nursing assistant is hard work and most CNAs are underappreciated. As the nurse, we want to be humble servant leaders that show appreciation to the nursing assistant while being mindful of how we delegate tasks.
You may be interested in: 5 Hazards of the Nursing Profession