Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What's new for CNA Humor?!

I've searched the internet high and low, and as far as I can tell CNA Humor is the largest (and maybe the only) CNA focused humor community on the internet. With this news, and the fact that the Facebook page broke 10,000 likes tonight, I'm rolling out big plans for the future of CNA Humor. I don't want to give away all of my secrets, but I want you to know what's coming because I'm hoping y'all will be looking forward to it!

CNA Humor is about to become a full-service website. Yes, I'll still run the Facebook page. I do feel, however, that between Facebook, this blog, the t-shirt shop, and the plans I have for the near future, we need one convenient location where y'all can find all of the CNA Humor products and services. I also want a more private space where y'all can feel comfortable talking to other CNAs without all of Facebook seeing what we're talking about all the time. That's why the new CNA Humor site will include a full community forum where you can post and comment on threads about anything CNA (or non-CNA) related, and you can even do it anonymously if you want. I'm also including on the new website a members community where CNA Humor fans can make their own profiles, socialize, contribute, and make friends more easily. Of course, the new site will also include all of the CNA memes and comics you love from the Facebook page.

I'm also excited (AND NERVOUS) to announce that I'm working on a CNA Humor video series featuring what I hope will be hilarious videos that will brighten your day. I'll also include a vlog-style video series in which I answer questions and address CNA topics in a (hopefully) humorous and accessible manner.

I couldn't be more excited to make this announcement, and to see my little pet project turning into such a large and vibrant community. I couldn't do any of this without all of you who have liked the page, shared the posts, bought the t-shirts, and interacted in such a positive way with not only me but each other! I am 400% certain that CNA Humor's new site and the brand itself will be ridiculously fun for all of us and will continue to grow.

If you have any suggestions, I would be happy to take them into consideration and would love to hear from you! You can email me at I promise no matter how many e-mails I get and how long it takes me, I will read and reply to each and every one. This community has changed my life and my plans for the future in the best way possible, but it wouldn't even exist without you!

Advice for CNA noobs! :)

We had a couple of new trainees this past weekend at work and neither one of them were certified yet or had experience as a CNA. As my seasoned co-workers and I gave them advice, I got inspired to write a post for new CNAs. We were all noobs at some point, and relied on the advice and direction of the veteran CNAs who trained us! This is a vital medical position that's growing like crazy and will always be needed, so there are going to be new CNAs pretty much forever! I can't speak for all CNAs but I know I love training and mentoring brand new nursing assistants as they feel their way into this demanding, stressful, and ultimately rewarding career.

One of the first things you'll be indoctrinated with as you start your CNA training is HIPAA. That's the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. You can find out all about it at the US Department of Health and Human Services website. Basically what you need to know is that HIPAA is a HUGE deal and you have a responsibility to protect your patients/residents privacy. This means you don't give anyone any identifying information about the people you care for. Not your momma, not your friends, and you DEFINITELY don't post it on the internet. That's why you'll notice that when we tell stories on CNA Humor, we omit names and identifying information about our residents/patients and our workplaces. If anyone from work--whether a co-worker, supervisor, or even the family of a resident/patient--reports you for publicly discussing or posting identifying information about a resident/patient, you're done. Your job as a CNA is pretty much over. That's how big a deal HIPAA is. A good rule of thumb is if you have to question whether or not something is in violation of HIPAA, just assume that it is. It's better to be safe than sorry. Side note: You also can't talk about residents/patients to other residents/patients. This can be a tough one especially in nursing homes where residents and nursing staff share common areas. Residents may overhear or see things and want to ask about them later. Just remember, if a resident asks you about another resident just say you don't know anything about it. End of story. SIDE SIDE NOTE: Fines for a HIPAA violation can be $250,000 for you AND your facility. Keep that in mind y'all!

As a brand spankin' new member of the medical team, you'll experience enthusiasm like you've never felt before. We all did. You love your job and you want to take care of every little thing for these wonderful and inspiring people you're responsible for because they NEED you!

Now I'm not saying that we seasoned CNAs don't still feel this way about our residents, because if we didn't we wouldn't still do this job. We love our residents and look at them as if they were adopted grandparents. However, what I'm about to say is real talk, y'all.

You will not be able to answer every single call light as soon as you see it.

The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can actually get some work done. In a perfect world every hospital and nursing home would have a 1:1 nursing staff to patient ratio, but in the real world most of our facilities are overcrowded and understaffed, and you have to become a master of prioritizing. Each resident is important and deserves to be treated as if they're the only one there, but the reality is sometimes you just have to let a call light ring while you deal with a priority. Now some of you might be wondering, what is a "priority" and what isn't? Well, I'm going to use the names of some 80's rock gods to give you examples: if Jon Bon Jovi is down the hall wanting his bag of popcorn popped, and you haven't finished a round yet, Mr. Bon Jovi can wait until the incontinent residents on the hall have been changed before he gets his popcorn. If Axl Rose is ready for his bed bath but Dee Snyder is in his wheelchair ready for bed and is a fall risk, Axl can wait until you put Dee to bed. If Brett Michaels' blood sugar bottomed out and he needs a snack right away, and you come out of his room to find Joan Jett's call light on and you know she's safely in bed, you make sure Brett has his peanut butter crackers and orange juice before you answer the call light. In a real world nursing home situation all of these things and more would be going on at the same time, and you have to learn to roll with it. The ability to look down your hall at the beginning of your shift and prioritize all of the things that are going on in the moment, as well as the things that come up along the way, comes with experience and knowledge of your residents. It can be intimidating, as well as overwhelming to deal with all the commotion and figure out what to do first, but you'll get there. Even my examples are almost a perfect world scenario, because most likely while all this is going on your charge nurse will be telling you to do something completely unrelated, a co-worker will be asking you for help transferring Henry Rollins, who is a lift, and you'll hear a page over the intercom that a CNA is needed in one of the rooms on your hall. Just breathe, prioritize, and take care of each task as quickly and carefully as you can and before you know it, your shift will be over and it will be someone else's problem. Lol.

Every veteran CNA can tell at least one story of having to take a hit for the team. Sometimes they come as a surprise and other times you see them coming but for the resident's safety you can't dodge it. The reality of working in a nursing home is you will, at some point, get hit. You will also get bitten, spit on, scratched, and pinched. You will have your hair pulled and your feet rolled over by wheelchairs. These things are all part of caring for people, especially those with Alzheimer's and dementia. Your residents will resist care, react out of fear and confusion, and sometimes they'll just be straight up pissed off. I'm not going to try to tell you how to avoid these situations, because nine times out of ten, you can't. What you need to remember in these situations is not to take this behavior personally. First of all, put yourself in the resident's shoes and try to tell me you wouldn't act the same way! Second of all, your combative residents wouldn't act like that under normal circumstances and probably would be ashamed if they knew what they were doing. The next thing you know, the same resident could be trying to hug you and kiss your cheek. Patience and compassion are necessary traits for a CNA, but especially when dealing with a combative resident.

There are so many more things I could tell you about your new career as a CNA, but the topics I've covered here represent what I think are the most important things you need to know about working in a nursing home. This is the best job I've ever had, and by far the most rewarding. Care, compassion, and common sense are pretty much the three C's of this field, and I'm glad to share my experience and knowledge with people who are thinking about or working on starting to work as CNAs. If any of you have tips or advice you'd like to share about working in a nursing home, or especially in a hospital, since I don't have the experience to cover it here, please leave it in the comments! We have a lot of newbie CNAs on the page whom I'm sure would appreciate the help and advice! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Super silly poem I wrote about being a CNA.

So yeah, this was supposed to be a song and I was going to record it on a video for y'all but I don't play any instruments and my brother (who is a guitarist) is out of town, so I'll let you have it in poem form. I wanted to write something funny and it turned out really cheesy and silly, but I thought some of you might get a kick out of it. Just go easy on me, I haven't written a poem in like ten years. LOL :)

I clock into work and immediately
slip into a puddle of someone else's pee.
I turn the corner and what do I see?
My hall's lit up just like a Christmas tree.
I get my linen cart and write out my bath sheet
Then hear a tag alarm, gotta move my feet.
I'll be lucky if I get a lunch today,
'Cause I'm a CNA.

Well my shift just started and I can't slow down,
So many lights, can't even start my round.
Next thing I find a resident on the ground,
And the charge nurse is nowhere to be found.
Med tech can't leave the cart and hall partner's around
The corner cleaning up a code brown.
Nothing ever goes just the right way,
'Cause I'm a CNA.

When you see me pass by a resident's room
And I don't stop, please don't assume
That I don't care because it's far from true
I've got a lot of other people who need help too
When you're working with people you can't presume
From one minute to the next just what they're gonna do
My job is hard but I am proud to say
That I'm a CNA

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

An open letter to the families of the residents I take care of.

I'm a trained professional. No, I didn't go through years of schooling to do this job, but I am educated, trained, and certified by the state and my position deserves a fair amount of respect. I'm not a CNA because I'm too lazy to go to nursing school, I'm a CNA because I care about and enjoy working closely with the residents. I'm a CNA because I love this job and I want to do it.

By placing your loved one in our facility, you have asked us to perform a job that you are unable or unwilling to do yourself. I perform my job with compassion and professionalism, whether you're watching me or not. I care about your loved one as if she were one of my own grandparents, and spend hour upon hour providing for her needs, listening to her stories, and cheering her up when she's feeling down. You may not see me much in the hour or so that you're visiting each week or month, but that's because I'm also responsible for twenty or so other residents whom I care about just as much as I care about your loved one. I am spread thin but I work diligently to provide sufficient care and attention to all of my residents. I sacrifice my own personal comfort to make sure my residents are well cared for. I go hours without a bathroom break to make sure all of my incontinent residents are clean and dry. I spend my 12 hour shift hungry, thirsty, and physically exhausted to ensure that my residents, including your loved one, have everything they need and are comfortable. I am cussed, hit, bitten, spit on, scratched, and I have my hair pulled nightly while trying to care for residents; most of whom don't know what they're doing. Your loved one may have at some point hit, bitten, or scratched me, but I don't hold it against her because I know if she knew what she were doing at the time she would feel ashamed of herself, and I don't want her to feel ashamed or guilty over things she can't help. She has probably apologized to me before over the way she has sometimes acted toward me and I have told her there is no need to apologize. She has probably apologized to me for having to perform care for her and I have told her there is no need to apologize because this is what I'm here for and if I didn't want to do it I wouldn't be here. When your loved one thanks me for performing care on her I have to blink back tears as I tell her there is no need to thank me for doing what I'm here to do. I can't put into words how much your loved one's appreciation means to me.

I'm not asking for a pat on the back from you. If I were doing this job for the recognition I would have quit ages ago. All I want for myself and my fellow CNAs is respect. We do a job most people don't have the patience or stomach for, and we LOVE it.

Thank you,

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Our Least Favorite Visitors

We all know the frustration of walking into the facility and finding out State is supposedly coming in. Nobody likes having their work scrutinized, especially by unknown authority figures. It's one thing if the charge nurse or shift supervisor comes in while you're, say, operating a lift or giving a bed bath, but having a State inspector observe you is enough to make you wish you'd called in sick.

I've heard CNAs and nurses alike make statements such as "State is not your friend," "State is after your job," or "State goes out of their way to catch you doing something wrong," and I honestly think those kinds of comments are overreactions. Sure, if a State inspector sees you operating a lift without a partner or carrying a dirty brief with your bare hands, you're probably going to be in some trouble. However, if you're doing your job and sticking to your regulations, State is nothing to be afraid of.

Everyone in the medical field knows that it's impractical to go exactly by the book in every situation. When healthcare regulations are made, the people responsible for them are solely concerned with the resident's safety and dignity. They never account for potential scenarios in which the procedures are next to impossible to follow, for instance when a facility is understaffed or when an emergency takes time away from your normal routine. As long as your residents are safe and you allow them the privacy and dignity you would expect for your own loved ones, you're doing fine. Just take a little extra time to go by the book when you know State is around. Your charge nurse will understand if you're moving a little more slowly than usual.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A big dilemma we run into as CNAs is the fact that we can be responsible for a hall full of residents/patients who all think that they should come first. It can get stressful, especially when you add other CNAs asking for help, your charge nurse asking you to do things, and even family members following you around asking for things. The key is to prioritize, which is something I still don't think I've mastered but that I work on during each and every shift. 

Prioritizing in the nursing home can seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many CNAs buckle under pressure. A good system I try to follow is this: If a resident is in some kind of crisis, obviously they come before anything. If a resident is in a situation that could quickly lead to a crisis, drop what you're doing and prevent the potential crisis. Then the order of importance goes to: nudity, incontinence, bathing, going to bed, then miscellaneous things like snacks, drinks, changing tv channels, etc (unless specified by the charge nurse in the case of snacks and drinks).

Prioritizing is important for the residents, to make sure more urgent needs are met first, obviously, but it's also important for you so that you have a plan of action and don't feel overwhelmed. However, sometimes even a well thought out plan can be turned upside-down due to the fact that your residents are people and we can't predict when someone will vomit, have diarrhea, aspirate, go into cardiac arrest, fall in the floor, or even pass away. You can't beat yourself up when your plan gets derailed due to a sudden occurrence. Our goal is to find the balance between structure and flexibility where we can let one resident wait for their snack until an incontinent resident has been changed, but can quickly wrap up giving a shower when another resident falls or aspirates. It's a constant effort to manage all of the things you have to do and prioritize, especially on a busy shift, but sometimes just thinking about the steps to your plan can have a calming effect, making you feel in control. 

There are always going to be residents who think they should come first, but in time you'll get used to the idea that they can wait, just like anyone else can, until others' more urgent needs have been taken care of. 

Keep up the hard work! 

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

My name is Clarissa and I'm the founder of CNA Humor. I'm a CNA (of course), I work in a nursing home (if you couldn't tell by the memes), and I love my job. I'm 26 years old, married, and I live in Kentucky. I've had a passion for writing ever since I learned to write, but found out quickly that I also loved caring for others. CNA Humor has been the best thing I've done in a long time, because I get to combine my two passions and have had a wonderful time doing it so far. 

When I decided to start the CNA Humor Facebook page, I was really just doing it because I had searched for a CNA related humor page and there weren't any. I wanted to do something funny to make my co-workers laugh, so I started making and collecting memes and such related to situations we frequently run into as CNAs. Just a couple short months later, my little funny page has grown into a network of over 800 followers, and the number grows each time I log in. Every day my mind is blown by the amount of new followers, likes, and shares on CNA Humor. It's wonderful to be able to share a laugh with so many hard-working, compassionate people, and to know that in our field a good sense of humor is a necessary trait to be able to handle the stresses of the job. I'm glad to be able to make so many people laugh and feel like they're part of a caring community of people who are all in the same boat.

With the rapidly growing success of CNA Humor and its accompanying t-shirt shop, I decided to start this blog as a place to share some humorous stories and insights into the life of a CNA. Whether you're a veteran CNA who can add an "Amen" to every anecdote, or you're just starting your CNA training and want to know what you're getting yourself into, I hope that you can find this blog helpful, entertaining, and informative. I also plan to share tips and information relating to our jobs that may not be necessarily funny, but will help us along the way. 

Working as a CNA-- whether in a nursing home, hospital, or other health care facility--can be at alternating times the most rewarding, miserable, hilarious, stressful, fun, and crazy job you've ever had. All I want to do with the CNA Humor network is bring CNAs together to share a good laugh and connect over stories of shared or relatable experiences. I hope you all have a good time reading and sharing the memes and humor I post, and I hope you'll feel free to share your own hilarious stories and ideas as well.