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New here!! Advice please :)



I am a new CNA & have heard a lot of good things about this app and I would like to know if or when you go to a shift, how it goes and who do you talk to when you get there ? Is there some type of orientation or will they give me an exact assignment? 

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Guest Kimberly Griffin4804500565

Hi Brynn and welcome. I am a nurse for 23 years and I was a CNA for close to 5 years before becoming a nurse.  I have signed on with a handful of facilities, but for the most part, I have worked agency the majority of my career. Its not for everyone, but for people who like to change things up and arent afraid to step out of their comfort zone, it is the only way to work. You are your own boss. You dont have to go to mandatory meetings and for the most part can stay out of the politics of the facilities. You are in charge of your schedule...you dont have to beg anyone to have your birthday off (mines this thursday)


to answer your question and to help alleviate your fears, i offer this from an experienced, seasoned nurse:


1. (I have not mastered this and still struggle)

Be on time and even early. Sure, you want to orient yourself to the facility and patients, but dont kid yourself...you most likely will NOT be getting your own private tour of the place. The staff you are relieving are using those precious last moments of the shift preparing for you to relieve them. It will only make them  annoyed if you come in and wish to monopolize their time...remember, thats their shift and not yours...dont make a pest of yourself asking a bunch of questions to people who have a certain routine. Let them finish.


The reason I say to be on time and even early is that if you are not there, you open yourself up to your co-workers getting to look at the schedule first. Believe me...if they see you have a run they would rather have, they will downright steal your assignment from you and you may never know. If you are there, its less likely they will pull a switch-a-roo-switch-aree. 

2. First impressions count. Smile...From the moment you get out of your car, keep in mind the reason you are there is to help people. Change of shift is always a hectic time and there are those patients that fall thru the cracks. Everyone is in a hurry and pass right by them (usually saying to them "hold on a minute") They may have been needing help for a half hour before you got there and so now they may be in a foul mood. Do what you can to brighten their day. We have a saying in my family growing up, "if momma aint happy, aint nobody happy." The help and attention you can give will go a long way in making for a better shift...a lot of times it could be they just want some ice water.


3. From the start, Create your team... Start with those patients that hang out at the door where staff arrive on the floor. They will be your biggest and best advocates...take a minute to stop what you are doing and in an instant bear witness with them...meaning look into their eyes and show them that you are for real, real. This will put them on your side and they will want to help you have a good day. 

For them to be hanging out at the door during this time shows that they know the schedule of the facility. They will be your go to person to ask where rooms are (bathroom, breakroom, etc) and can identify patients if you are looking for someone in particular. You can take cues from them what is coming up next. 

4. Make an effort to become friends with the staff. It used to be that agency made a lot more money and staff would automatically be mean because you come in making more money than them, but they know their patients and the routine best. Find out where they will be working so in case you need them, you can find them. Let them know upfront that if they need any help with anyone, specifically transfers and lifts up the bed, they can count on you. It will throw them off gaurd because the majority of the time you are at work someone is wanting you to do something for them. It is extremely rare to have someone ask if there is anything they need you to do for them. Even if they dont take you up on the offer, they will girever remember that you stood out.


5. Find out your assignment and especially what time your break is. It matters. If you miss the time they allot for you to be off the floor, it will be hard on everyone when you do take a lunch since you are supposed to be doing something else at that time.


If you are working day shift, everything revolves around the patients' meals. Either they just ate, eating, or about to eat. Its like putting on a performance like a school play. Each person has a role. Find out what each one's role is and prepare them for it. Some people eat in the dining room, some stay in their rooms, some have to be up and others never get up. Like i said, pretty much it seems like they just ate and its time to go again. 

6. Showers...most people hate to have to give showers. Its hot in there. You are busy doing something else. You are going to fall behind because of it, but you have no choice. You have to. This is where you need to coordinate with the others. Only certain amount of patients can go at a time. Men cant shower with women and vice versa. You have to find out what time is your time and do it then. A pro-tip...wash their hair last...they get cold without clothes on, dont make it worse making them have wet hair while you wash their feet. The minute you are finished rinsing their hair, let them sit with a towel over their head. It will keep in the warmth.

7. If you are having a bad shift, keep in mind that it will end. The time will come when you can go home. The patients dont get that "luxury" no matter if they are having a bad day, they dont get to go home.


8. Have fun. You are there. Make the most of it. Learn something about each patient. They are our elders and part of history. When they die, their stories die too if they werent able to pass it on to someone.


boy...i guess i really could write a book. 

the good part about working agency is that you are expected to not know things. I mean, when you sign on as staff,  you get orientation and shadow someone for days until you feel comfortable on your own. Not so with agency...you basically get thrown to the wolves.  You will be lost and behind and are expected to be. Make a difference. If you can go and answer a call light, do it. The others will appreciate that. If you dont have time to help them, let them know help is on the way. You can turn the light off as long as you go tell the assigned staff what they need. More often thzn not when you tell them so and so is wanting to be changed, they will snap at you that they already knew that. Its not that because of you help is coming faster, but the reassurance help is on the way...and that annoying beeping at the nurses station will stop...if for a brief moment before they just push the button again...


ok...enough for me. 

one more: if you dont like or want to help people then you are in the wrong field and you need to get out of it. But since you are here, i am assuming you want to be a caregiver...so...give a care if nothing else.

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Call the facility and ask to see if they would be willing to give her an orientations however if they do not. My advice would be to talk to the other CNAs at the shift and shadow them to a few rooms to get an understanding how things work at the facility. And when you get your report from the previous CNA that you is replacing to get as much information about each resident as possible because some residents are very specific about their care. Most facilities will give you a specific assignment or a hall and you are responsible for those residents on that hall for the shift.  

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Hey Brynn-- super excited for you to try out Nursa. It really is the best! Here are a few tips others shared with me- hope they help! You can also always call the Nursa support line and get help- some of these tips came from them too.

  • Send a "thank you" message in the app to the facility that schedules you.  If the person's name and contact info to check in with is not listed in shift details, request that info in the same message.
  • Let them know in that message that you'll arrive to the shift 15-30 minutes early to get familiar with the layout of the facility and where things are located. Usually they'll have someone ready to give a brief tour and orientation to the unit, charting, etc. 
  • Be super friendly, introduce yourself to other staff on shift at the beginning of the shift 
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions! If you're unsure or concerned about something, make sure to get clarity on it before proceeding. 
  • Remember that while you may be at a new facility, you know how to be a CNA and taking care of patients is the same.  You got this!  
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