How to be Professional as a CNA

A career as a Certified Nurses Aid can be a very rewarding experience but you must uphold a certain level of professionalism to be successful in this complex and challenging industry. As a Certified Nurse’s Aide you are expected to maintain a certain level of professionalism from appearance and personal demeanor to technical competency.

The old adage “You only get one chance to make a first impression” is never more accurate than in the health care industry. A health care professional must always maintain a clean, well kept appearance. Uniforms need to be pressed and be kept free of stains. Jewelry should be kept to a minimum, such as a wedding band or necklace. Hair must be well groomed and out of your face.  You will often serve food and will, on occasion, assist in feeding patients. It is imperative to keep the work area as sanitary as possible.  You will be interacting with people on a more intimate level than any other profession and will require a higher standard of hygiene and forethought on your part.

You must not only uphold a professional appearance but your actions and attitude must reflect that of a highly trained and well mannered professional.  You will be working with people of all ages and from all walks of life. You must be mindful that your patients are individuals who vary in their religious beliefs, sexuality, dietary intake, appearance, and opinions.   At times, these beliefs may strongly differ from your own and you do not have to embrace them. You should, however, be as courteous and respectful as possible and treat all patients equally.

Another point to consider is that the people you deal with on a day to day basis range from mildly ill to chronically ill and dying.  When people are in poor health, they don’t always act as they do when they are healthy.  It can be quite challenging to deal with so many emotions and personalities on a daily basis.  Patients can exhibit emotions ranging from fear to anger and may verbalize their feelings without consideration because they feel helpless and even hopeless at times.  They may even direct their fear or anger toward you.  Never retaliate with anger; maintain your professional composer at all times.  If you are unable to diffuse the situation you may find it helpful to call on a senior staff member to assist you. Often, the best course of action is to just listen without judgment and try to make the patients  feel as safe and comfortable as possible.  A soft spoken word will often do wonders.  Sometimes passive listening works just as well to put people at ease.

No member of a health care team should give a patient or a family member false hope.  Do not tell a terminally ill patient they are going to get well or that an experimental surgery is a sure cure. Finally, if you don’t know the answer to a question, reassure the patient you will find the answer out for them and ask their nurse or the Doctor.  Never guess and give them an answer to pacify them. This will not only discredit your ability as a caregiver but it will also damage whatever trust they had for the healthcare team as a whole.

Bear in mind, you should always refrain from divulging personal details about yourself, such as money problems or relationship woes. This will reflect poorly on you. You should also avoid discussing another patients’ plan of care, details of their illness or even sharing their annoying habits with another patient or family member.  Doing so is a breach of patient confidentiality, which is punishable by law.

All staff members should exhibit a certain level of professionalism toward his/her coworkers and must be able to effectively follow the appropriate chain of command.  Healthcare members must be viewed as a team to build the trust, respect and confidence of their patients. You should never demean other staff member in front of a patient, no matter what your feelings are regarding your teammates. This will not only cause a hostile work environment and unnecessary conflict within the work place but it may permanently disparage the patient’s trust in the staff that is caring for them. It requires the effort of every staff member to care for a sick person and to help them get well.

Certified Nurse Aides play a vital role in the health care team.  Being a Certified Nurse’s Aide is a challenging, yet rewarding role both professionally and personally.  CNA’s often spend more time with a patient than any other member of the health care team.  Therefore, always be mindful of the things that you say and do and how you represent your health care team as a whole. Maintaining a professional demeanor at all times will ensure your success and position as a valued member of the health care team.


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