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The outlook for certified nursing assistants is very strong, as they work in all forms of health care: nursing homes, hospice care, hospitals, home care, assisted living, and more. Anyone who has set foot in a doctor’s office or hospital knows that nurses and nursing assistants are picking up extra duties due to understaffed offices.
If you or someone you know is considering a career as a certified nursing assistant, it’s important to examine these unique and important 15 Traits to Look for in a Patient Care Assistant.
Ability to Adapt
Not only is the health care system changing, but every single day brings different encounters and challenges for nurses or nursing assistants. One day the nursing assistant may work primarily with a handful of patients, but he or she may be working with dozens the next week. Over the course of a couple of hours, a nursing assistant may take vital signs, change bedding, feed meals, and complete patient intake forms. No two days in nursing are the same and you have to be able to adapt without any adverse effect on the patients or practice.
Strong Work Ethic
Nursing assistants are in high demand. Given the high demand, nursing assistants are fortunate enough to easily find open jobs and switch jobs if necessary. If a flexible schedule is one of the bonuses of nursing, working in understaffed facilities with high turnover is a chief complaint. Be prepared to have an over-stuffed schedule and deal with staff shortages. On top of that, always put the patient and the patient’s needs as the core values.
As a nursing assistant, you will be dealing with people who are hurting every day. A natural compassionate spirit is a must-have personality trait for those in the medical field. Knowledge isn’t the only thing you need to do your job. Many nursing assistants work in nursing homes and urgent care centers, where your care and compassion can have just as much impact as taking care of that person’s physical needs.
Attention to Detail.
Patient charts and forms contain pages of important details that must be transcribed correctly. However, there are other ways to pay attention to detail as well. Has your usually impeccably-dressed patient been missing buttons and zippers, perhaps signaling a loss of dexterity? Did your patient mention a change in diet or sleep that should be examined further by their doctor? Do you have to repeat yourself to a patient, perhaps revealing memory issues that didn’t exist before? As a certified nursing assistant, you’ll spend more time with your patients than registered nurses, nurse practitioners and doctors. Attention to detail is critical to the successful care of your patients.
Sense of Humor.
It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine, so it should be no surprise that a sense of humor is an important
trait for a career in patient care. In fact, it’s not only beneficial for professionals, but it’s advantageous for patients as well. Laughing can help manage anxiety, reduce tension and even strengthen the immune system.
As with a lot of things in life, being able to laugh even in times of high emotion and stress is important for personal happiness and success. Having a sense of humor and the ability to be silly is important when working with patients. Your positive outlook will fuel them and help them face the seemingly overwhelming challenges that are apparent in health care.
Quick Thinking Skills.
Quick thinking saves lives. As a nursing assistant, you’ll face a variety of different situations. Being aware of your surroundings and being able to notice when patients are in need can not only make you a successful nurse, but it can save lives.
Knowledge of Your Caring
Caring for people in their moment of need and weakness is not your average 9 to 5 job. Florence Nightingale, widely regarded as the founder of modern nursing, sensed from a young age that she was called to nursing. Whether she was working with her sick, poor neighbors or participating in philanthropic events, she understood her calling by the age of 16.
Her purpose and passion for helping others were clear, and this knowledge helped drive her toward a successful career in nursing. Whether you’ve wanted to be a nursing assistant since you were five or if your passion for the sick and hurting came later in life, successful medical professionals don’t just have talents to make them good healthcare professionals—they have a calling.
Strong Communications Skills.
Nurse assistants need to communicate with a variety of audiences: patients, doctors, other nurses, patients’ families, facility administrators and more. With a patient, you may need to speak slowly and use basic terminology to help them understand your plan. With a doctor, you may need to give a quick summary while they are between patients. Understanding various situations and being an active listener are the foundations of clear, effective communication. Delivering important and sometimes emotional messages in an empathetic and diplomatic way is also a must-have skill for medical professionals.
Patience with Patients.
Your grandmother may have always told you, “Patience is a virtue.” Many certified nursing assistants find that patience is the top skill they need to succeed. Your patients are often scared, sometimes very ill and maybe even suspicious of their new surroundings in assisted living or hospice. You may be the target of their aggression — you may be the one to bathe the woman with the worst attitude or feed the man who complains about everything. Controlling your reactions to patient behavior and maintaining a patient demeanor is critical to being a successfully certified nursing assistant. It helps to always remind yourself that they aren’t frustrated or upset with you. They’re frustrated with their current circumstances.
It might not seem like the largest feat to stand on your feet for over 10 hours at a time, but it certainly takes training and getting used to. You may also need to lift patients in and out of chairs, push a medicine cart, and complete other physically demanding tasks during your shifts. Regular exercise and a healthy diet is something you’ll talk to your patients about, so you might as well practice what you preach. Your body will thank you at the end of a long day, and you’ll set an example for your patients.
Without a doubt, nursing assistants are present for some of the most joyful moments of their patients’ lives. Imagine being present for an ultrasound when new parents hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Imagine being present at an assisted living center when an elderly patient recovers from a fall and takes her first steps in months. But nursing assistants also see patients who are scared, in pain, and emotionally raw.
Potential nursing assistants should consider if they are emotionally and mentally prepared to face sickness and death, as well as the happy moments that are part of a typical day.
Being an early adopter of technology is important in the healthcare field, as digital healthcare records, mobile tools, and other technology improve both patient care and nurse-to-doctor workflow.
Health care is an exciting field to be in for those interested in technical advancements. It’s important to remain knowledgeable on technology trends, so you can be adaptable and your skills always remain sharp. There are devices and objects designed with modern technological innovations that can simplify a patient’s daily tasks. For instance, stabilizing technology can help keep a spoon or fork steady for those with Parkinson’s disease and other conditions that would cause their hands to shake. Imagine the change this could make for a patient who is embarrassed to eat or who has stopped spending time with family around the dinner table.
Mobile apps are also available to help patients. For example, there are apps that track physical activity, women’s fertility, and diet intake. Reading and keeping up with these kinds of advancements can greatly improve the lives of your patients and the efficiency of your team.
Some people think this type of instinct is innate, but it’s actually based on experience, education, conscientiousness and attention to detail. If your gut tells you to double-check a vital sign or stop by a patient’s room one more time, follow your educated intuition. Your experiences have helped you develop a sense that you should apply on the job.
Nursing assistants will encounter all different types of people will various backgrounds and families of origin. Some patients are devoutly religious and some don’t believe in God. Do you need to ask about a minister coming to visit the patient or prepare for other end-of-life rituals? Knowing your patients’ beliefs and respecting them are critical skills. You may also hear a patient or family member express a political view you don’t agree with. A patient may try to engage you in a conversation about a hot-button topic at the assisted living center, such as their dislike of another resident or staff member. Nursing assistants must navigate every situation with civility and respect, regardless of your personal opinion.
Tolerance for “Squeamish” Tasks.
A typical day in the life of a nursing assistant could include distributing medicine and performing patient assessments.
However, there will be plenty of tasks or errands that require patience and resolve. Whether you’re answering patient calls, helping them change into clothes, collecting urine and stool samples, or changing linens and adult diapers, the nursing field is not for the faint of heart or squeamish.
This post originally appeared here