17 Common Mistakes New CNAs Make: How to Avoid Them

You’re a CNA. You’ve been doing this for years and you know what you’re doing. But there are those new CNAs out there who just don’t have the experience, knowledge or skill to do their job right from day one. We all make mistakes, but these 17 mistakes made by new CNAs can be avoided with a little education and preparation before entering the work force.

  1. Failing to dress professionally – A person’s appearance can say a lot about them and when it comes to looking professional, CNAs need to dress in an appropriate manner so they don’t offend their superiors. They should always be clean and fresh from head-to-toe whenever walking into or leaving the work place which will make a great impression on everyone around them.
  2. Not following protocols – It is important for CNAs to follow established protocols to ensure safety of both patients and themselves. When a nurse does not follow protocol, it creates an unsafe environment for everyone involved. For example, a nurse may not properly document an incident. This could lead to the wrong medications being given or intervention taking place that should have been avoided (i.e., checking blood sugars and administering insulin without first verifying which medication is due).
  3. Forgetting medications – One of the most important aspects of being a CNA is administering medications. Nurses have been taught how to correctly identify and administer all different types of meds, but when they don’t focus on what they are doing or aren’t paying attention it can lead to serious mistakes. Not only does this create unnecessary danger for the patient, but also puts nurses in harms way.
  4. Taking medications home – While it may seem like a good idea to take leftover meds, they are left over for a reason. Medications need to be disposed of properly and taking extra is never acceptable (unless you have documented permission from the doctor). Taking medication home can lead to misuse or even addiction amongst family members. It is important to keep track of all medications and never take any home.
  5. Failing to read patient charts – The better CNAs are at reading over the chart, the more they will be able to provide for patients when caring for them during their stay in the hospital or other healthcare facility. It is easy to jump into taking care of a patient without first reading about their history. This could affect the entire process and put the patient in danger if they are allergic to something or have an illness that has certain warning signs that should be monitored closely.
  6. Giving wrong medications– When nurses are in a hurry or not paying attention it can be easy to confuse medications. This is why all medication needs to be checked twice, both before administering and after when the nurse double checks that they administered what was ordered by the doctor.
  7. Ignoring the needs of patients – Nurses are in the business of helping patients, but that doesn’t mean they should ignore their needs. If a nurse sees that something is wrong or does not seem right to them about a patient’s condition, it is important to speak up so further action can be taken and nobody gets hurt.
  8. Not asking for help when needed – Nurses are taught to be independent, but if they do not ask for help when needed it could lead to serious consequences. Nurses should never feel guilty about asking for assistance and doing so will allow nurses with more experience the opportunity to help others learn from their example which is one of the best ways new nurses can improve.
  9. Taking on too many responsibilities – It can be easy to get caught up in doing too much, but this is a sure fire way for nurses to burn out. When they take on more than one responsibility at a time it creates stress and puts the patient’s care in jeopardy. Nurses should try their best to stay focused on one task at a time until that has been completed before moving onto the next.
  10. Talking to other co-workers about patients – While it can be easy for nurses to talk amongst themselves, they need to keep patient information private and not discuss any issues that could affect their care or treatment in anyway. Nurses should make sure all details are kept inside the hospital walls so as not to spread rumors which could lead people who are not authorized to have that information into having access.
  11. Poor time management skills – CNAs need to keep track of their time and be able to prioritize everything that needs to get done. When nurses do not manage their time well it can lead them into making mistakes with medication times or other details which could put patients in danger as well as create issues for the entire nursing team.
  12. Not prioritizing what needs to get done – CNAs need to prioritize everything that needs to be taken care of and make sure it gets done in the proper order so as not to cause any issues for patients who are depending on these nurses during treatment. Planning ahead is key when it comes to avoiding making mistakes while on the job.
  13. Using cellphones at work – While some people think it is okay to check their email or take a break from work by sending text messages, nurses should never do this while at the job. Using cellphones can lead them into missing vital information and also distract other team members who may be working on important projects that need all hands on deck in order to get completed without any issues arising.
  14. Neglecting their personal hygiene – CNAs are supposed to be role models for their patients who look up to them while they are being treated. This means that nurses need to make sure they always have clean hands and wear gloves when needed in order to prevent contamination issues with medication or equipment which could pose a serious safety risk for the patient.
  15. Having poor relationships with co-workers – Not all nurses get along, but when there’s a team atmosphere it is important for everyone to work together and not put one another down which can lead into resentment that could cause serious issues in the workplace. Nurses should always be aware of how their words affect others and try to be understanding and helpful whenever possible.
  16. Taking everything personally – Nurses should keep their emotions in check and not allow themselves to get agitated or mad at something another nurse says. If they do this, it can lead them into arguing with other nurses which is never productive for anyone involved. Nurses need to know how to take criticism without feeling like the world is ending and always remain professional no matter what’s going on around them.
  17. Not knowing what they’re doing – The best way for nurses to avoid making mistakes while working is by being prepared before entering the work place, asking questions when needed and always having a plan B in case something goes wrong or if their original plan doesn’t pan out as expected. It’s important for nurses to be able to adapt their plans accordingly and not get frustrated when things don’t work out the way they thought it would. It’s also important for nurses to know that mistakes are inevitable, but knowing how to move past them is what makes someone a true professional CNA who will go far in this career field.

New CNAs have a lot to learn when they first start their career, but these mistakes can easily be avoided if the CNA prioritizes what needs to get done, plans ahead for contingencies and always puts safety as their main priority.