Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CNA Zazzy at Your Service, How Can I Fail You Tonight?

My first day as a Certified Nursing Assistant outside the protective wings of my preceptor was frightful and confusing to say the least.  I was on the schedule to work from 1430-2230 and I brought along my cheat sheet that breaks down what important things should be done by when.  For instance, listen to report from previous CNA, start first set of vitals and ambulate each patient by 1430.  Next get report from each RN on the patients you’re taking care of from 1530-1600.  Following that, start the second set of vitals at 1830, ambulate all your patients for the second time by 1900, do your I&O’s (inputs and outputs) and pass fresh water by 2100, leading up to writing out your new report sheets for the next shift by 2200.  Oh and somewhere between all that we’re supposed to sit for 15-20 minutes if we have time for lunch.  Now in black and white this all looks easy enough to do and basic to follow.  But for me this feat was not so easy.

Usually I’m told the newer assistants get a load of 6-7 patients in total, and that they are usually looking to help out the other assistants because they have more time to help.  However when I sat down I was given 8 patients with a new admit in about 30 minutes.  So I thought okay, it’s only a couple more patients than what other new assistants are expected to handle so I should be okay.  I started out with great intentions, getting report and heading out to take my first set vitals.  Then my patients were buzzing on their call lights which go to a cordless phone all of us aide and nurses carry asking to go potty, or needing pain medicine, or asking what their diets are and whether they can order solid foods for supper.  Goodness, my head was spinning by the time I started my first round of walks.  Once in a while another aide would pass me in the hallway (with no intention of stopping) and ask if I needed any help or how I was doing.  But stoically I said that I was doing fine and I meant it, because in my head I knew what I should do next, but getting my body to move quickly enough was another story all together.

By the time I was supposed to start I&O’s, I had two new admits on top of the other new admit I was given earlier, on top of the 8 other patients I was supposed to take care.  These new admits needed to dangle at the bedside all before the end of my shift also needing surgical vitals which are q1/2 hr x 2 then q1 hr x 4.  I was in and out of each room doing vitals that finally when I passed by the charge nurse she asked me “how are you doing?” and I was quite short with her stating that “I don’t know how I’m doing, I don’t know where I’m at on my list of things to do, and I’m not sure what to do next” as I popped into another patient’s room. 

Shortly after that the heavens opened up and things became miraculous, all of a sudden my phone stopped ringing (which I think they deterred my calls to another aide or the nurse for all of my patients) and two aides walked up to me and finally stopped and asked what they could do to help me.  I told them I hadn’t started I&O’s yet to which they looked at my list of patients and split up the responsibilities amongst themselves so I could get done with my task of post-op for my 3 new admits.  This was the first time I had a clear thought in my head since beginning my shift.

After all of that was done and I was preparing the new report sheet for the next aide to come on duty, when one of my fellow aides looked at me and said “you’re doing great, you really are” and that was nearly all it took for a single tear to roll down my face and my voice barely answered her back with “thank you but I feel so inadequate”. 

I walked out of there by 2300 and so drained that I couldn’t muster any tears, thinking I didn’t want to ever go back again.  But I agreed to work a 0630-1430 shift the following morning.  I had 6-1/2 hours to get some sleep and go back and do it all over again.  Over and over I kept thinking that I don’t have what it takes to be an aide let alone a nurse after school will be done.  I wanted so badly to prove on the first night that I could hold my own and that the other nurses and aides could count on me for help but I ended up failing miserably.

By 0630 I walked into the hospital renewed with a brand new perspective that if God wanted me to do this today that I better rely more on his strength than my own.  Amen, amen, amen is all I can say!  God was there helping me take care of my patient load that next morning.  The day charge nurse must have heard how my night went because I was only given 7 patients and they were all pretty much ad lib and able to do for themselves, which made for a more pleasant experience.  I was actually enjoying my job and learning more about the patients I was caring for instead of quick in-and-out help here and there and unable to keep up.  I got to a point even that I was able to help another aide wash one of his patients up for the day because he was running behind.  I told the aide I would help him as soon as I was done setting up a room for a new admit and he told me that just my offer to help him was a kind gesture.

Now I’m off until Monday and I plan to take the rest of the week pretty easy.  I hope I don’t dread going in on Monday, because I don’t want to dread this CNA job like I did my last nursing home CNA job.  Eventually I want to enjoy doing this kind of work…


  1. He will help you get through this. I will be praying for you!

  2. Good luck, it sounds like maybe asking for help is an ok thing where you're working? Medical field or not, I find I always enjoy working in a place where you can rely on your coworkers as opposed to everyone being out for themselves.

    I don't know you personally, but from reading your posts, I know you're more than capable of handling anything they throw at you. You've also got a year of nursing school and clinicals under your belt, right? :)

  3. It is always ok to ask for help! I know how it is to feel overwhelmed and not want to go back the next day. That is an awful feeling.
    I know with some practice you will excel :) I will say a special CNA prayer for you.

  4. Wow, that sounds hectic! Sounds to me like you handled yourself really well with such a heavy patient load.

  5. Thank you so very much Beth for the reassurance, and the prayers. I'll be praying for your new journey into nursing school too.

    Nighthawke - I swear that first night going at it on my own was so scary that I didn't even try to use my phone as a means to ask for help either. I was just taking the long route of walking up and down the hallways peeking in patient's rooms, but if I would have just grabbed the phone on my hip and made a call, I probably would have been taken care of sooner.
    Thank you for your vote of confidence on my being able to handle what's thrown at me. While I have completed one semester of nursing school, I'm no pro yet, but I'm working at it. :-)

    Rnraquel - I hope that my casual status will be enough practice to help me excel. Yesterday I worked a 12 and felt better and my patient load were only 7 so that helps too. Thank you for your kind words.

    Cathy - thanks for seeing my abilities through my blog. While I tried the best I could, if the shoe was on the other foot though, I would have never given any new CNA that many employees their first shift alone. Thanks for your compliment.