Pros and Cons of Being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) | Spynaija

Pros and Cons of Being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Last Updated on April 20, 2024 by Godswill


A career as a Certified Nursing Assistant can be extremely fulfilling, but it’s also important to understand the significant demands of the job. As healthcare professionals on the front lines of patient care, CNAs play a vital role in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and home healthcare services. If you’re considering this career path, it’s crucial to go in with your eyes wide open to the pros and cons.

In this extensive blog post, I’ll draw upon my years of experience as both a CNA and a nurse to provide an honest, firsthand look at what the job entails. We’ll examine the unique rewards that make this vocation so meaningful, as well as the considerable physical and emotional challenges you’ll face daily. It’s a role that requires true dedication and an exceptional caregiver’s spirit.

The Pros of Being a CNA

  • Immense Job Satisfaction
    Perhaps the biggest advantage of being a CNA is the opportunity to make a profoundly positive impact on people’s lives every single day. As a CNA, you’ll develop deep bonds with your patients and their families as you help them through some of life’s most vulnerable moments. Knowing your hard work and compassion directly improves someone’s quality of life is incredibly gratifying.
  • You’ll witness small triumphs, like a bedridden patient regaining enough strength to sit up independently. You’ll celebrate major milestones like an Alzheimer’s patient having a rare moment of lucidity and recognizing their spouse. And you’ll provide comfort through the inevitable losses and heartbreaks, guiding families through the enormous emotional challenges that come at the end of life.
  • The bond between CNA and patient is truly sacred. You’ll share so many intimate moments as you help with feeding, bathing, dressing, and the most personal daily tasks. That level of trust and familiarity allows you to uplift people’s spirits and find unique ways to enrich their lives, even amid illness or aging. There’s simply no substitute for the human connection at the heart of this caregiver role.
  • Constant Learning
    If you crave on-the-job growth and skill development, being a CNA is an ideal path. On any given day, you’ll gain practical experience in areas like:
  • • Patient transferring and transport
    • Feeding and nutritional needs
    • Continence and bathroom assistance
    • Vitals monitoring
    • Wound care
    • Therapeutic rehabilitation exercises
    • Responding to emergency situations
  • As a CNA, you’ll constantly encounter new scenarios that build your versatility as a caregiver. You’ll become adept at everything from administering CPR to creative problem-solving that keeps patients safe and comfortable in difficult circumstances. This lifelong education makes the work environment dynamic and deeply engaging.
  • Many CNAs go on to become nurses, physicians or other healthcare professionals, using their CNA experience as an invaluable foundation. And those who stay in the CNA role long-term can pursue specialties or supervisory responsibilities. There are always opportunities to progress.
  • Building Relationships
    Some of the richest relationships in my life have been with patients and coworkers I met through caregiving. CNAs form a tightly bonded community since you rely on each other’s support to get through the daily intensity of the work. You’ll develop deep personal connections with those who share your passion for helping people.
  • These relationships extend to the patients themselves and their devoted family members. Being invited into someone’s life during such a vulnerable time creates a bond that often transcends the clinical nature of the job. You’ll get to know people’s full stories – their histories, personalities, spiritual beliefs, and most profound loves. It’s a great honor to be that secure presence during immensely challenging circumstances.

Quick Entry into the Field
For those looking to launch a career in healthcare without years of education, the CNA path has a relatively quick start.


The Cons of Being a Certified Nurse Assistant

  •  Physically and Emotionally Demanding Work
    One of the biggest downsides to working as a CNA is just how physically and emotionally taxing the job can be. CNAs spend most of their days on their feet, regularly lifting and transferring patients from beds to wheelchairs and assisting with mobility. The constant bending, pushing, pulling and physical exertion puts immense stress on the body and increases risk of injuries like back problems and muscle strains.Emotionally, CNAs must care for patients who are ill, cognitively impaired, incontinent, and nearing the end of life. Having to witness suffering and death regularly can lead to burnout and compassion fatigue. The work requires immense reserves of empathy and emotional resilience.Difficult Patients and Families to Manage
    While rewarding, caregiving duties also expose CNAs to verbally and even physically abusive behavior from patients with dementia or mental impairments. They may endure insults, hitting, biting, or other acts that, while unintentional, are still distressing to experience. CNAs must have exceptional patience and de-escalation skills.Interactions with stressed-out family members can also create challenges. CNAs often find themselves navigating conflicts between what patients need and what loved ones demand. Setting boundaries and managing expectations is a consistent part of the job.Lack of Respect and Recognition
    Despite the invaluable work they do, CNAs frequently report feeling underappreciated by colleagues, administrators, and even some patients and families. There’s a pervasive lack of respect and recognition for the critical role CNAs play in patient care and operations.

    CNAs may be treated like lowly assistants rather than licensed, certified healthcare professionals. They’re often left out of care plan discussions and their input isn’t prioritized, despite their frontline understanding of each patient’s needs. This lack of validation can significantly impact workplace satisfaction and morale.

    Minimal Career Advancement Opportunities
    For those driven by career growth opportunities, the CNA role hits a ceiling relatively quickly. There are limited possibilities for upward mobility and increased responsibilities beyond becoming a lead CNA or shift supervisor in a nursing facility.

    To truly advance their careers, many CNAs opt to pursue further education and licensing to become an LPN, RN or other role with more complex medical duties and leadership pathways. But remaining stagnant as a CNA long-term provides little room for promotion into substantially higher-paying positions.

    Irregular, Demanding Hours
    Nursing facilities, hospitals, and other healthcare settings require around-the-clock staffing to care for patients. This means CNAs must work rotating shifts covering evenings, nights, weekends and holidays — times when most other jobs are off.

    Shift lengths can extend to 12 hours or more, made even longer when there’s a shortage requiring mandatory overtime. Last-minute schedule changes are common as well to address staffing gaps. The irregular hours and on-call work makes it tough to maintain healthy work-life balance.

    Lower Pay Compared to Other Medical Roles
    While CNA salaries vary significantly by state and employer, this role unfortunately ranks among the lower-paid careers in the healthcare field. The national average salary for CNAs hovers around $30,000 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    In lower-cost regions, CNAs may make closer to minimum wage levels, especially when just starting out. While the pay can cover basic living needs, it leaves little room for saving or recreation on a single income, especially when supporting a family. The modest earnings don’t always match the intense workload and expertise required.

    By understanding these potential downsides in advance, prospective CNAs can prepare themselves mentally and make sure they have the drive and passion to find joy and meaning in this noble yet challenging care provider role.

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