8 C.N.A. Job Frustrations

Caregiverlist has always acknowledged that Certified Nursing Aides have one of the toughest (albeit most rewarding) jobs we know. Providing hands-on assistance to seniors in a variety of settings — nursing homes, assisted living facilities, private homes (through quality home care agencies) and hospitals — comes with a variety of challenges and rewards.

Our friends at Scrubs Magazine asked their C.N.A. Facebook fans to share some of the most uniquely frustrating aspects of their jobs. Here’s what they said:

8 frustrating things about being a CNA

1. “High patient ratios, feeling underappreciated, but most of all, nurses who won’t pay attention when you tell them something is up! As a CNA who is in nursing school, I have learned to recognize when something is not right, but too often the nurse shrugs me off and the patient suffers when it turns out that I was right in the long run.”
—Amelia Garner Shrader

2. “I have been a CNA for 16 years and I love my job! No, I do not want to be an RN or LPN! The most frustrating part of my job is the government telling our corporations how to staff their floors. Do they not understand that by giving us proper staffing, it would allow us to give our residents exceptional care? It would also minimize C.N.A. burnout, abuse (emotional and physical) and work injuries. Since when is the minimum-possible the best way to go?”
—Kim Cugini

3. “I would say the most frustrating part of my job is seeing extremely sick patients, totally paralyzed and living on ventilators, with no family ever around and being a full code. So unfair for those poor people.”
—Cassie Hagglund

4. “The most frustrating thing about being a CNA is working with other CNAs who are merely there for a paycheck…they show it by how they treat even the sweetest person. I understand and know some residents are tough, but some don’t understand what’s going on and some just can’t do a lot about the problem!”
—Melissa Beeman

5. “Trying to be in no less than three places at one time…STAT!”
—Liz Mellendorf Garascia

6. “I’m a CNA, and I am in my second semester of nursing school, so I know both ends. As a CNA, a very frustrating thing is being extremely busy and having a nurse tell you that a call light is going off. In the amount of time the light was going off, the nurse could have easily answered the light to see what the patient needed. So simple. I help everyone with their call lights; there is no reason to not help out because of the letters after your name! Also, being talked down to is a pet peeve.”
—Samantha Barclay

7. “The pay—22 years and $10.80 an hour. And there is no CNA to RN program…why?”
—Liz Johnston

8. “Feeling helpless that you can’t help every patient; getting emotional for the patients who never have family who visit them; when you work hard and try to do your best, but the other staff aren’t helpful and act like they don’t care for the patients or like you’re bothering them when you ask for help. You’re all they have, so that’s probably the hardest part. It is extremely rewarding, though, when you get patients who truly appreciate you—that makes it all worth it.”
—Nicole Martin Buss

How about you? What do you think are some of the more frustrating aspects of being a C.N.A.? And let’s balance it out — feel free to share what makes all the frustrations worth it.

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Discount Shopping for Caregivers

Nurses, C.N.A.s, C.H.H.A.s and caregivers alike can use a little love, with a little break in price.

Scrubs magazine announces the very first Code Happy Pop-up Shop: 25 Fabulous Finds! This special online store will be open only through 09/29. Use promo code CODEHAPPY2 at check out to save 15% off your total purchase.

Here are some of our favorites:

Personalized Thumbprint Jewelry
Even if you don't consider yourself a jewelry person, this thumbprint necklace is sure to convert you. Keep your child's, husband's or mother's thumbprint under your scrubs and close to your heart! And what a beautiful conversation piece to share with your patients. Each kit includes everything you need to make a fingerprint pendant, including practice clay that contains particles of precious metals that bind together to create the fingerprint. Instructions are included. ($75.99, Prairie Creations)

Daily Beauty Tea & Glass Tea Tumbler
How is this tea good for you? Well, the whole-leaf, antioxidant-rich Oolong + Pu-erh Tea has anti-inflammatory, skin and metabolism-enhancing herbs and spices such as cacao nibs, burdock, astragalus and cayenne. The tea supports liver detox, proper digestion, skin's natural functions and enhances your natural immunity (perfect for nurses who don't want to catch every bug that comes through the hospital!). It gives you energy with health and beauty benefits, and none of the jitters! Comes with 8-ounce Fair Trade glass tumbler. ($42.99, BijaBody)

Yantra Mat in Black
Addicted to yoga? We can't blame you (caregivers definitely need time to relax and de-stress!) and want to introduce you to the Yantra mat. Each one has 8,820 acupressure contact points arranged in 210 flower shapes. These are positioned on each mat to make sure that equal pressure is applied at all points. Each flower comprises 42 pressure points and is calibrated to give equal pressure, making the mat extremely comfortable to lie or sit on. The mat comes in a stylish carrying bag and is easily portable, so you can use it at home or at work, and it will pack easily for you to take on your travels. 60 X 70". ($49.99, Swedwerx)

Remember caregivers, these items are only available until 09/29. They make great gifts or a treat for yourself! Use promo code CODEHAPPY2 at check out to save 15% off your total purchase.

Certified Nursing Aide Salary Advice — by C.N.A.s

Senior caregivers, especially C.N.A.s, have a lot of love for their profession. They have to — the hours are long, the work is tough, and the money...well, we all agree that there are better-paying jobs out there. And while there are few professions that affect so many lives in so many ways, let’s face it, a gal (or guy) has got to eat.

While scouting C.N.A. salaries across the country, our friends at Scrubs Magazine found that the highest paid spots tend to be big cities like NYC, Los Angeles and DC, while smaller cities (especially in the South) offer lower hourly rates. So they posed this question: As a C.N.A., how do you feel about the pay where you live? Do you think the pay would be better if you moved to a different region? What tips do you have for a C.N.A. looking to make some extra money?

C.N.A.s across the country chimed in and have this to say about pay:

Portland, ME:
“I worked at a nursing home right outside Portland, Maine for a few years while living up there and I made $17.50. That was weekend pay but I also was per diem so that bumped me up a few bucks and I was ALWAYS looking for extra shifts that were posted because they were either double time, +$10 or +$6 an hour. C.N.A.s have to be crafty! Always keep your eyes out for how to make THE MOST money because we work very hard and do hard work! Companies will always try to screw you so you have to be on top it!”

Burlington, VT:
“I kept on applying for jobs in hospitals and was offered one six months later in Vermont. I worked as a C.N.A./PCT for two years in LTC and at a large hospital in Boston. I have a BSN and a BS in biology. The job market in Mass. is horrible, for both new grads and experienced nurses. Vermont, on the other hand, has a great need for nurses. It’s still competitive to get a job as a new grad, but once your foot is in the door you can move about to any specialty you desire.” -Yllomia

Boston, MA:
“I made around $14/hr as a tech at Tufts. However, working there (or any hospital) in nursing school is no guarantee of a position there as an RN. I graduated last year, and they were unable to give me (or any other graduating techs) anything. Having a C.N.A. position is a leg up, but is by no means a guaranteed in, so please consider that before signing yourself up for a long commute and expensive parking.” -NurseKatie08

New York City, NY:
“Here in Long Island, NY you can make up to $18.75 an hour. That’s what my friend is making at a nursing home. Definitely don’t rule them out.” -*Miss*

Albany, NY:
“In NY, it’s $14-$17 to start. Plus shift differential. Usually 3-11 p.m. is $1.50 extra, and 11-7 a.m. is $2.00 extra. Of course, this is evened out by the cost of living being so high here, but if you have the same benefits in a cheaper living situation, this could make all the difference!”

“I’m in NY and started at $15, I’m at almost $16 now. Evenings are 10% diff and overnights are 15% diff. Every little bit!” -peppercat21

“I live in upstate NY. I commute 45 minutes away to a large hospital in Sayre, PA. I was offered 3 positions immediately after graduation. I work on a step-down cardiac floor (yes, it is a specialty). I have 2 bachelor’s, one is a BSN another in psychology. We do hire new grads, they hire I’d say at least 20-30 a year, hospital wide. I’ve almost completed my first year. It has been a whirlwind; school does not teach you half of what the “real world” is going to teach you, it is so completely different! I plan on becoming a Nurse Practitioner.” 

Newark, NJ:
“Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing requires nursing assistant skills before you begin their program. They give the course for the month of July before the program begins in August. You can work across the street at the hospital while you continue on to get your RN. The cost of the nursing assistant course is only $500. It is in Montclair/Glen Ridge. It is not a certification course, but you will still be able to work for the same pay as a C.N.A. The hospital starts you off with almost $13 for the first 3 months, and then you get your eval.” -Hydakins

Philadelphia, PA:
“I live in Southeastern PA. When I first started back in 2004-2005, I was paid $9.72 an hour. The pay was a bit low, but they offered a full benefit package as well as paid vacation/sick time. My last position at an LTC in 2008 I was as a pool/floater and was paid $13 an hour during the week and $14 an hour for weekends. No medical benefits or I would have had to take a $3 pay cut! Pay attention to those sorts of details and decide what’s best for you.”  -asun21ta

Baltimore, MD:
“I am a tech at GBMC. I’m also a junior year nursing student. When I started working there almost 4 years ago the starting pay for techs/nursing students was $10.50 an hour. Now I believe it’s between $11.50 – $12 an hour. I just want to let you know that without patient care experience you can’t expect to start off making a lot of money. When I finished the C.N.A./G.N.A. course I was working in a nursing home making $8 an hour.” -jenawade25

Wilmington, DE:
“Christiana Care is a great place to work. There are endless options as to what you may want to do there. I worked at Wilmington Hospital for 7 years and left for 3 to work for private practice. I went back to Wilmington because I missed the bedside. I’m now a PCC at Christiana. They do own everything and they are lacking in the HR dept. I’ve seen a few horror stories from people who have gotten injured. However, there is some pride in working for the biggest healthcare organization in Delaware. Even the change from Wilmington to Christiana has been huge. I used to say “Wilmington Hospital” and people would say, “Where, St. Francis?” No one had any clue that Wilmington was part of Christiana. I swore I’d never go to Christiana, but I took the chance and I’m there now and I am pretty happy. Things could always be better. One hospital versus another? They all have their good and bad sides.”  -GreenEyedNurse

Washington, D.C.:
“Children’s in DC, Washing Hospital Center, GW all hire CNAs. At Children’s they are called PCTs, Patient Care Technicians. If you are a nursing student and have already had your first clinical there are other types of opportunities in the role of the CNA, one-on-one with a nurse, but still a C.N.A.” -RNNPICU

Providence, RI:
“I JUST got hired at hospital for my first C.N.A. job on a med/surg floor. With no experience, it’s $12.49/hr. It’s 3rd shift though, so I get a $2.50 differential and on weekends I get an extra $1.50. With experience it’s more like $14 and change an hour, plus any differentials. Low, yes, but higher than most nursing homes. I’ve interviewed at places that were barely $10/hr!” -kelsey.kristine

“I work at a hospital in RI and with no experience, I make $12.49 an hour, plus differential. 3rd shift(what I was hired for) is an extra $2.50/hour, weekends are $1.75 and I believe evenings are $1.50. If I work my regularly scheduled hours any 3rd shift I pick up is time 1/2 which is very, very nice! Most nursing homes I interviewed at were under $10/hour. I made more working at a coffee shop!” -kelsey.kristine

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