We know the value of the professional nursing assistant. These are the men and women who work tirelessly to assist the elderly and frail under the supervision of RNs and LPNs. For many seniors (especially for those seniors who are aging in place, at home), the best CNAs provide care that greatly increases the quality of life for the most vulnerable of our population.
The 38th annual National Nursing Assistants’ Week runs from June 11-18, 2015 and kicks off on June 11 with National Career Nursing Assistants’ Day, a day to recognize the dedicated nursing assistants who have committed 5 to as many as 58 years of their lives to the care and well-being of others. This year’s theme is “Nursing Assistants @ the Heart of Care,” Celebrating 38 years as a professional organization for nursing assistants and other direct care workers in long term care.
Now more than ever, direct care workers need to advocate for themselves and their vital importance in the lives of the fastest growing demographic in America — seniors.
William Painter, past president of the board of the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, urges all professional caregivers to be proactive in making others aware of the indispensable contributions made by those in professional long term care. Here are his suggestions:
- Use the Language of Respect and Cooperation on a daily basis when working with clients, coworkers, families and the community
- Make sure that you and your co-workers are registered to vote.
- Educate yourself and co-workers about the political issues that affect your jobs and the care you give. (Check news stories. Pay special attention to articles about wages and benefits, overtime pay, parity, staffing ratios, safety on the job, and job-training.
- Get to know your lawmakers! Call your legislators. Write letters. Find out who the influential people are in long term care and contact them. Get a small group together and make an appointment to visit.
- Practice your message and avoid complaining – be assertive and professional. It is your government and your money being spent! Don’t be chicken! They hear from the other “experts”, but if they are ever going to understand how it really is, they have got to hear directly from you!
- Look for and create opportunities to speak to churches, civic organizations, seniors groups, etc.
The employment opportunities for certified nursing aides and assistants are plentiful. CNAs work in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living communities, adult day care centers, and in the home through senior home care agencies. Over 2.5 million women and men are currently employed as CNAs.
If you are contemplating a career as a certified nursing assistant, be aware that you’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent, you’ll have to pass a background check and medical exam, and various vaccinations are required, depending on the requirements in your state.
Certified Nursing Assistant training requirements vary from state to state, and there are many CNA schools that will help prepare you to pass your state’s Department of Health certification and licensing exam. Program costs vary widely but some financial aid may be available.
Is a CNA career right for you? Visit Caregiverlist’s Caregiver Training Center to learn more about CNA job duties, take a look at some free senior care training briefs, and take some CNA sample and practice tests.
And if there’s a special Career Nursing Assistant in your life, take this opportunity to thank them for all they do and, moreover, help advocate for respect for their role in quality long term care.