The joy, the hassles, the drama, the tears, the laughter and compassion of working 30 years in a relatively small trauma hospital I will always hold dear to my heart until the end of my life. Each individual I worked with became an extension of my life. I truly believe that our small critical care step down unit gave patients and families the best care possible.
Now retired, I have a job as a substitute nursing instructor. My first job is teaching clinical to CNA students (Certified Nursing Assistants). I have never looked down on health care workers that had less education than I because there is something to learn from everyone. Plus, I always referred to the CNAs as "my eyes in the field." When we were short a CNA on a shift, we all knew it would be a rough day. Since I have taught RNs in the past, I wanted to get input from some of my past CNA co-workers on their thoughts about what I should try to convey in clinical to my new CNA class. I asked Gina what 3 skills she thought I should try to teach them.
This is Gina's reply. Honestly, it made me a little tearful. You can bet that Gina will make an outstanding RN because of her compassionate outlook on patient care. Thank-you Gina for your prompt response to my question. Miss you, too, girlfriend. Congratulations and continued success in your life. Any patient would be lucky to have you at their bedside.
Three skills to teach:
1. You are not just there to take vitals and to keep the patients clean. It's the context in which you carry out those responsibilities that matters. You are caring for these patients probably in their darkest hour. You have the power to make a difference by being there to help them (and sometimes their family members) through this time.
2. You know your patient VERY well because you see them all day! If something doesn't look right, feel right, or if you even have the slightest intuition that something could be wrong, GO WITH YOUR GUT! Alert the nurse and take a set of vitals! Better safe than sorry. I can't tell you how many times I have caught something critical just in time by following my instincts.
3. Communication. Communicate with your patient, the family, the RN, the charge RN, and other CNA's to best care for your patient. Often times, patients feel powerless and all it takes is some communication to make them happy. Let them know what they can expect, how their day will look, ask them how you can best help them, and explain everything you are doing. Also, a lot of times the RN gets critical updates about a patient and the CNA has no idea what's going on, so take an active role in finding out about your patients status and prognosis. This can help us understand how to assist our patient more skillfully.
Thanks for asking, Suzanne! I just gave notice that April 8th will be my last day at Henry Mayo as a CNA. I will be going to school full time to get my BSN! This was an awesome way to reflect on everything I have learned the past 3 years.
Miss you a ton!