8 Tips to Survive CNA Training
After all the time and effort that goes into researching, choosing, and applying to the right CNA program for you, it may seem as though the most difficult part is behind you by the time you get accepted and are ready to begin training. However, it often doesn’t take much more than the first class for CNA students to realize that these programs include complete immersion into the fast-paced and challenging world of healthcare. From medical jargon to protocols for daily tasks, and interacting with patients at their most vulnerable, a career in healthcare often comes with a steep learning curve. A successful CNA student will emerge from their program as a competent and well-prepared professional. But getting to that point is not something to be taken lightly and requires motivation and endurance. Below are eight tips for surviving and thriving in CNA training.
1. Use a planner to stay organized
One of the biggest factors for success is staying organized. Large amounts of content are often covered in short amounts of time. There are homework and reading assignments to complete, time spent in the classroom and lab, and clinical hours to fulfill. Being unprepared or missing even one assignment or lab session can be extremely difficult to catch up from. Keeping a planner to and setting small, measurable goals to be accomplished each day can help keep you on top of assignments and obligations and ensure that you do not fall behind.
2. Actively participate in learning
Be an engaged participant. Come to class or clinical prepared, ask questions when you are unsure about something or want to know more, and jump right into the learning process. You are investing in your own career, so be an eager and committed learner.
3. Form a study group
Studying with others is a great way to help break content into sections and tackle it together. Groups keep you accountable for your study habits, challenge you to do your best, and expose holes in your knowledge base that you may need to focus on. Study groups are also a great way to get to know your peers and develop supportive relationships to help get you through the challenges of CNA training.
4. Learn how to study for your learning style
There are three main learning styles that most people fall into or are a combination of: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. You can utilize your Student Learning Center or find simple online assessments to help you determine your preferred style of learning. You can then apply that knowledge to your study habits and incorporate things like listening to recorded lectures, writing out notes, illustrations, or flashcards by hand, or practicing hands-on skills to help maximize your learning and retention.
5. Utilize all available resources
Does your school have a library with a quiet and study-conducive environment? Or maybe your teacher is holding an optional review session before a test or recent grads are doing a Q&A after class one day. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of whatever resources or extra opportunities are available to you. You never know what you might discover or who you might meet that can make your CNA training experience more successful.
6. Ask for help
If you are struggling in a class or with a clinical skill, ask for help early on. It is much easier to address an issue as soon as it arises than to wait for a poor grade or uncertainty in the clinical setting to snowball. Connect with teachers and be open and honest about areas of weakness. Admitting when you are struggling and getting the help you need can drastically change your outcomes in a positive manner.
7. Dress for success
Your appearance is the first impression your teachers, peers, mentors, and patients will have of you, so dress for the role you want. Your scrubs or uniform should be clean and unwrinkled, hair and nails should be well groomed, and makeup and jewelry minimal and professional. Wear an easily visible name badge and your best accessory, a smile!
8. Take care of yourself
This one may seem obvious, but it is actually quite easy to neglect basic self-care routines when putting in long hours of studying and clinicals. But remember that well rested and healthy individuals will be most successful in the classroom. Be sure you are getting enough sleep and try to adhere to similar times for sleeping and waking each day. Eat a balanced diet and be sure to get a good breakfast with some protein in before an early morning clinical. Stay hydrated with plenty of water, as well. Leave some time to meet up with friends, exercise, or participate in a relaxing activity you enjoy. It’s also a good idea to invest in some high quality shoes to keep your feet and back in good shape when spending long hours on your feet during clinicals.