Becoming a Certified Nursing Aide

Certified Nursing Aides provide the personal care services to seniors in nursing homes, assisted living communities and hospitals nationwide.  There is an ongoing need in the U.S.A. for more Certified Nursing Assistants.  But what is it like to work as a C.N.A. and be the person who provides the critical hands-on care for our nationâ's seniors? 


Guest Blogger Patrick Welch, a C.N.A. since age 16, shares his story about becoming a C.N.A. and working as a C.N.A. during his clinical trials training for all of the caregivers who are becoming certified as a nursing aide (you may apply for C.N.A. and Caregiver positions near you on Caregiverlist, the nation’s only career center for professional senior caregivers created by industry professionals).

Senior care:  everyone has their own story about their beginnings in this industry.  My own story as a C.N.A. began when I turned 16.  My Mom, who was the equivalent of a director of nursing at our local nursing home, decided it was time for me to join the working world.  If I wanted to drive I would need to be able to afford to buy gas for the car so he suggested I become a C.N.A. as she knew I would always be able to find a job.  I enrolled in a program my high school offered in conjunction with the local technical college, North Central, and was off on my two month long class to become a C.N.A.  The first thing I noticed when I walked into the classroom of approximately 20 students, was that I was the only guy.  That was the start of my life working and studying in all female environments, which is another story on its own.  We started off the first week more or less learning what is to be expected of you when working as a nurse aid and slowly progressed into a crash course into the healthcare world.  Seventy-five hours of classroom experience later, it was time for me to start my clinicals at Colonial Nursing Home.  

We all met at the nursing home and waited as our nurse aid instructor gave each student a resident they would be working with through the 45-hour clinical period.  When she came to me, she seemed to have something special in mind for me, I could tell.  As the only male in the group, and as she also knew that I had grown up around healthcare, indeed I was given an extra special case.  My resident was in the late stages of dementia, physically aggressive, incontinent, and enjoyed communicating with an extremely colorful vocabulary.  Luckily, I did not have to work with this individual alone, as this was during my clinical trial training, I had an experienced CNA helping me.  The C.N.A. school’s nurse aid instructor would go from student to student to check on their progress so she was also available for advice and guidance.   

The first few days went as well as they could and as the saying goes, I “milked and fed the cows”, cooked dinner for the family and just kept the house tidy so that my resident was able to finally go to sleep.  She would never be able to sleep if all the chores were not finished.  However, once the chores were finished, everything went downhill from there.  Her language became more extreme and so did her aggression.  When I was halfway through my clinical trials, I had an experience I have never forgotten.  I was helping this wonderful woman get ready for bed, putting on her night gown, helping with her peri-care, brushing her teeth and all that was left was helping her to the restroom so she could relieve herself before bed. It was like any other night, except for the part where she tried to stand up by herself; as she struggled to stand, she wanted to do it by herself, but I wanted her to be safe and started to help her stand up.  With what must have been the rest of her life force, she grumbled a few words to me that went something like “to hell with this,” and coincidentally fell back onto the toilet and fell unconscious – it seemed her time had naturally come.

For anyone considering a career as a C.N.A., just know there will be many unique experiences along the way of helping others that will leave you with many stories to tell but also you will finish each day of work knowing you made a positive difference in someone’s life.

Caregiverlist provides proprietary hiring tools for senior care companies and caregivers seeking work may submit 1 caregiver job application on Caregiverlist to be considered by multiple hiring companies in their area.  You may also research C.N.A. schools on Caregiverlist’s C.N.A. School Directory.

Remember, it is mandatory for senior care companies who are licensed by their state to maintain a minimum staff of Certified Nursing Aides (C.N.A.'s), based on the number of senior patients they are assisting with care, and because of this, there is a constant need for more C.N.A.'s to fill available positions.  The work can be rewarding but also difficult when you are dealing with seniors who may have memory loss or may not really be accepting of their age-related illnesses.  You may want to first take a practice C.N.A. exam to see if this is the type of work you would enjoy doing.

You can share your caregiver stories right in the Caregiverlist caregiver and CNA career center. 

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