7 Qualities of the Most Successful Nursing Assistants
If you’re interested in a career as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), you may have questions about which specific CNA skills you need to be successful in the position.
Indeed, it takes a multitude of skills to succeed in any healthcare role, and a CNA career is no different. So whether you’ve recently completed training to become a CNA or you’re already working in the field, here are seven of the most important qualities of successful CNAs.
1. Strong Attention to Detail
Certified nursing assistants must have good attention to detail. They work daily with data, patient charts, and forms containing pages of pertinent health information that they must accurately interpret and transcribe.
CNAs also need to pay very close attention to their patients’ nonverbal cues and be on the lookout for any physical or mental health changes. Of all the nursing professions, CNAs tend to provide the most direct and frequent care to patients—noticing these small details about a patient’s health can save lives.
2. Excellent Communication Skills
Clear and direct communication is key for a CNA career. Nursing assistants work directly with many different groups, from patients and their family members to doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers.
Since CNAs communicate with such a variety of people, they must have strong communication skills to know how and when to communicate most effectively to meet each person’s unique needs. For example, CNAs may need to speak slowly and in layman’s terms to reassure and explain when communicating with their patients. With doctors and nurses, a CNA often uses medical terminology and may even provide medical-specific summaries.
Good written communication skills are also a must for CNAs, who need to communicate via clear and concise notes when reporting and documenting details about a patient’s wellbeing.
3. Knowledge of Medical Terminology
Because CNAs are conduits between the patient and their medical team, they must relay patient information using the proper medical terminology so the physician can create an accurate and effective care plan.
CNAs should know the wording pertaining to infections, conditions, and general medical terminology to follow proper safety protocols and communicate effectively with other healthcare workers.
Patience is one of the must-have CNA skills because nursing assistants are responsible for providing constant comfort and care. CNAs often work with sick patients who may be irritable due to their medical issues. In some cases, elderly patients may be confused, scared, aggressive, or suspicious of their environment and the very people trying to help them.
By remaining patient and keeping a calm and supportive demeanor, CNAs can provide the best possible care without exacerbating an already challenging situation.
5. Empathy and Compassion
Empathy and compassion are soft skills that are crucial for every type of healthcare job, including nursing assistants. Successful CNAs use these two qualities daily, especially when working in nursing homes.
To offer care that truly has a beneficial impact on their patients, a CNA should have empathy for what others are going through and compassion to foster a caring bedside manner that puts patients at ease. These attributes help CNAs emotionally connect with and support their patients in distress.
Every day is different for CNAs—some days are smooth sailing while others can feel much more challenging. And, with CNA shortages across the country, nursing assistants may be asked to work weekend shifts, switch shifts, or work more hours than initially scheduled.
Working day in and day out with sick and elderly patients also requires significant flexibility. A method or care approach that works for one patient may not work for another, so CNAs must rely on their creativity and flexibility to adapt to ever-shifting personalities and priorities. Remaining flexible, professional, and on-task no matter what comes up is an essential trait for CNAs.
During nursing assistant work, CNAs inevitably run into some difficult, sometimes negative situations. However, it’s important to stay enthusiastic and positive—this optimism radiates to patients and coworkers and helps foster an overall healthy and happy environment.
Plus, finding the best in every situation and not letting the bad days get them down can contribute to good overall mental health and less burnout for CNAs.