You’ve looked into it and you think that would be a great job to have.
Let me help you out here, no matter how bad of a day you’re having at your current place of employment; trust me when I say this: if you take a CNA job, life will get a lot worse for you very quickly.
This isn’t the type of job where the work gets easier as time goes on, either. You will continue to have more responsibilities added to your plate as time goes on and by the end of your first few months as a CNA, just breathing through an eight-hour shift will feel like a vacation.
I know you’re probably asking yourself, “if it’s so bad, why does anyone ever do this?”
Well, there are a few reasons. I’m going to go through them now and try to explain why.
10) You’ll be the first line of defense if someone dies in their hospital bed…
When you work at any job where people are expected to stay overnight – whether it be an attorney’s office or a gas station – coworkers become family. The people around you are your second family because that’s who you spend the most time with the outside of your own home.
It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Except for CNA jobs.
- At hospitals, doctors never see patients unless they’re about to start surgery on them.
- There will be no emotional support for you to lean on when things get rough.
- Your coworkers are just as miserable as you are, so don’t expect any sympathy or understanding from them.
- They’re too busy trying to not burn out themselves to care about your well-being.
9) You’ll never know if this is what you want…
The one benefit of taking a CNA job is that you’re not going to have a financial loss by quitting after a week thanks to the training course they offer. However, at most hospitals, there is an expected turnover rate of over 100%.
What I mean by that is that it’s expected that once someone graduates from their training class and gets thrown into the mix on their own, they won’t last a week. The turnover rate is so high at hospitals because it’s a miserable place to work.
Sure, they paid you for your time up until this point but how much of that went to paying off the course?
8) You’re probably there for the wrong reasons anyway…
“I want to help people.”
Look, if someone really knew what they were doing here, no one would need them. This isn’t like working at McDonald’s where the manager starts people out with “front register” and gives them smaller tasks within their job description as they show proficiency.
At CNA jobs – especially ones in local hospitals – you will be thrown into everything all at once.
You’ll check vitals, draw blood (never done that before?), give medications (which is not the same thing as giving someone Tylenol, by the way), fix broken equipment, fix more broken equipment, deal with irate family members like they’re your own grandparents, and on top of all that you’ll be assisting doctors in surgery while you struggle to remember how to use a $100 piece of equipment.
7) You can’t say no…
The people who work at CNA jobs know what’s coming when they sign up for it.
They’ve heard horror stories from previous CNAs but they decide that any experience is better than their current situation. A lot of people are just trying to get into nursing school or looking for some health care experience before moving on to greener pastures.
Unfortunately, a lot of these people don’t realize that your ability to say no will save them from being the main person responsible for carrying an entire ward or unit.
6) You’ll have more responsibilities than you could have ever imagined…
I’m going to compare this job to one where you work as a waiter at a restaurant.
In most cases, when someone walks in to order food, they give their table number and name so the waiter can deliver the meal later on. While waiting for their food, they might ask if it’s possible to get a refill of Coke because “it didn’t come with any.” When the waiter brings out the refilled drink 10 minutes later he says something along the lines of “enjoy!”
This is it. You are the waiter.
Except your job isn’t to get drinks or bring out plates of food, but rather to keep track of over a dozen people’s medications, conditions, allergies, and other crucial information. Oh yeah – you’ll also be expected to prepare IV ports for patients who need them before surgery or help move them from their bed into wheelchairs when they’re being sent home after just having surgery.
5) You have no life…
Even if it might seem like CNAs have all the time in the world during working hours because they just sit around watching TV while you’re enjoying lunch at Chipotle on your day off, this job will eat up any free time you may think you still have.
There’s a reason most people who work at local hospitals are college students. It gives the students all the free time they want while they’re young and then works around their class/lab schedules.
4) You’ll be stuck there for a long, long time…
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to quit, good luck finding something else after that.
Who is going to hire someone with no experience or references?
The turnover rate I mentioned earlier has nothing to do with CNAs being incompetent either. They just hate being stuck at one place as much as anyone would – especially if they were miserable before starting the job.
In some situations, even having a criminal record won’t matter because it can take weeks or months before another position opens up. This is especially true if the company is understaffed, which will pretty much always be the case.
3) You’ll make peanuts…
There are some CNAs who make enough to get by but I wouldn’t consider it anything other than “living paycheck to paycheck.”
An average CNA salary starts at around $10/ hour while the more experienced CNAs usually end up making somewhere between $15 or 19 dollars an hour. Unless you’re working in a place that has unbelievable benefits… there’s no reason why you should want this job for more than 6 months. And even then, you’re still not going to be able to see your family once school starts back up.
2) There’s no way out…
After spending so much time as a CNA, it’s hard to convince yourself that you can move on and be someone else. You’ve basically spent over a quarter of your life-giving sponge baths and helping people use bedpans…
Why even bother trying to move on?
1) The work is heart wrenchingly awful…
If this job was meant to make you feel good about yourself or help others, I would say “forget it.”
But the sad truth is CNAs are stuck doing things no one should have to do every single day. Even if you know how to properly lift patients without injuring them or without throwing out your back, it still isn’t an easy thing to do when you’re working with beds that can only go up and down so far.
CNAs deserve a lot more respect than they’re given and I’m not just saying that because I was one for over 2 years. This is probably among the most demanding jobs you’ll ever work in your life, but almost no one will acknowledge that. It’s time we recognize how hard CNAs work and get them the credit they’ve earned – especially since it seems like all of them are practically illiterate when it comes to health care!
I Hope You Get What You Deserve – Christine Ritchie
Note: This article makes some good points about the overall poor pay rate and long hours of this profession, but it also makes some pretty insulting generalizations. Although there may be some negative aspects to working as a CNA, it also has its benefits. For one, you can get your foot in the door of the medical field and begin gaining experience if you don’t have a degree in health care or nursing.
Also, CNAs are able to work at any time they want, so long as there is someone else willing to fill their place. If this article was meant to persuade people against taking up this profession, then it’s succeeded (and failed) because I’m strongly considering applying for my CNA certification soon. Remember that this is just one person’s opinion; don’t let it affect your decision-making!