Certified Nursing Assistant

Top 5 Qualities You Need to be a Successful CNA

Joy Milner
May 5, 2023
A CNA assisting an elderly man with getting up

If you’ve decided to make that career move to officially get your CNA certification, or if you’re still trying to make the decision, I’m sure you have plenty of questions - whether you’ve been working in healthcare for years or this is all brand new to you.  Today, let’s dive into the characteristics that it takes to become a CNA!

1. Patient
Let’s start with what it means to be a CNA.  CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant.  As a nursing assistant, you would be responsible for assisting patients or residents with completing activities of daily living, or ADLs. This could involve eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, general hygiene, medication reminders, turning and repositioning, taking vital signs, or even just lending a listening ear.  You must keep in mind that the people who need assistance with these tasks usually cannot, or have limited ability to, do them for themselves.  Some might even be frustrated by their situation and/or their limitations.  This will require you to be patient with their abilities and their mindset.  Patients and residents may frequently get frustrated, but you must understand that it’s not aimed at you.  The huge life changes they may be experiencing are enough cause for frustration.

2. Attentive
Being a CNA also means that you are the frontline person for noticing any major changes in health - whether a wound has become infected, a person seems disoriented, they’re experiencing complications they didn’t have before, or any number of issues. You will likely be the first person to notice, and you would be responsible for seeking the appropriate avenues of care.  Your attention to your patients/residents could result in the difference between positive and negative health outcomes, which is a lot of responsibility!

3. Compassionate
A CNA is the person most likely to interact with patients and residents; this means you would be most responsible for making sure humanity remains in healthcare.  No matter the situation of the person requiring medical care, they will be depending on you to assist with things they can’t do for themselves.  This puts them in a vulnerable, and sometimes even embarrassing, situation.  It would be your job to make them comfortable while you care for them.  And showing that you have genuine compassion for them and their situation, will help build the trust necessary to perform your tasks quickly and efficiently, especially the more intimate duties of a CNA. It's important to avoid compassion fatigue though—read more here.

4. Reliable
For most patients or residents, you are one of very few people who they will see consistently.  Specifically for patients or residents in long-term facilities, they might even consider you a part of their extended family.  They will come to depend on you to take care of them, ensure tasks are done properly, and sometimes keep them company, in the absence of other family.  Again, being reliable and trustworthy become important factors for you to be a successful CNA.

5. Culturally Aware
When a person seeks medical care, they do not leave their culture at the door.  All exceptional healthcare professionals are able to understand and implement the fact that culture impacts every aspect of care.  Even if you do not fully understand or agree with a patient’s or resident’s culture, it is important that you respect it.  Showing a real interest in learning more, will also help build trust.  A patient or resident who trusts the healthcare professionals who are helping them is more likely to have a better care experience - from a customer service perspective, but more importantly, from a health outcome experience.

Know that you have the perfect character to be a successful CNA? You can view upcoming CNA classes here.

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Written by
Joy Milner
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