CNA’s Make a Difference!

I punch in at 7 a.m. and have to get 18 people up for breakfast. The usual workload is 9 people, but there were two call-ins, and no one from the 11–7 shift wanted to stay and work a double. I can’t waste one second if I am going to try and get people up for breakfast. You can’t have them choose what clothes they will wear. You have to pick out what is easy to put on them; which takes their dignity away, their right to choose. However, you don’t have time to stare into their closet.
No time to take the allotted 10-minute breaks every two hours, nor a lunch break. After breakfast, the 18 residents on my list have to be moved out of the lunchroom. Some need to go to physical therapy, others to activities, and some need help to go to the bathroom.
– Jim, worked as a CNA for 10 years.

It’s no secret that we are experiencing a major shift in the age distribution of our population. As the percentage of our population over 60 increases so does the need for health care workers. In fact, jobs in the health care industry are projected to increase by 5.7 million in 2019! (Bureau of Labor Statistics) A vital link in the care chain is provided by CNA’s.

“The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history,” said Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. “By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.7 million under the age of 18.” — U.S. Census Bureau

What is a CNA?

On the front line for the care teams are the many CNA’s who interact with patients daily as they assist them with basic needs. What does CNA stand for and what do they do? CNA is the abbreviation for Certified Nursing Assistant. It takes a number of people with different certifications to provide care for patients in hospitals, rehabilitation, care centers, and nursing homes. LPN’s (Licensed Practical Nurse) and RN’s (Registered Nurse) require more training than CNA’s and serve as their supervisors.

Training and Education

Nursing assistants must complete a state-approved education program in which they learn the basic principles of nursing and complete supervised clinical work. After completing a state-approved education program, nursing assistants take a competency exam.
Bureau of Labor Statistics

A CNA requires the least amount of schooling in comparison to other health care professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the following duties performer by CNA’s (sometimes referred to as nursing assistants):

  • Clean and bathe patients or residents
  • Help patients use the toilet and dress
  • Turn, reposition, and transfer patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listen to and record patients’ health concerns and report that information to nurses
  • Measure patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • Serve meals and help patients eat

CNA’s are at the bottom of care center organizational charts. This is reflected in their pay, but it does not accurately represent the vital role they play in the care of residents. Like many jobs in our country that involve caring for children, the elderly, or the disabled; it comes with great responsibility but low pay.

Quick Facts
# of CNA’s in 2016–1,564,300
2017 Median Pay — $27,510 a year/$13.23 an hour.
New CNA Jobs by 2026–177,700
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm

Like many people in our country, CNA’s are in desperate need of higher pay. Caring for the elderly, disabled, or injured is a vital link in the care chain and those doing the job should be paid accordingly. Imagine the stress of caring for people all day while knowing that you are not earning enough to put food on the table. Thank you to all CNA’s for the quality care you provide to people in need!

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Originally published at theoneunion.com on January 10, 2019.