8 Qualities of the Most Effective CNAs

8 Qualities of the Most Effective CNAs

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) has direct and consistent contact with individuals at their toughest moments. The most successful CNAs hone their skills, but also possess qualities that are rarely learned in a classroom. While passion and patience are at the top of the list, flexibility and strong communication skills will prove effective in your career.

1. Passion

As an effective nurse assistant, you’ll want to discover what components of the job enable you to thrive. Are you genuinely concerned for the well-being of your patient? Nurses are caring and compassionate, driven by a desire to help and make a difference. Others can sense if you enjoy your work — your passion resonates with not only those in your care but with your coworkers as well. Having passion for your work allows you to be a stronger team player and if needed, an advocate for your patient. 

Remember that happiness is contagious. If you show up to your shift passionate to serve others — your efforts will bring joy to those around you. 

2. Patience

Think of a time when you’ve been pushed to your limit. What coping strategies helped you overcome? Working in the medical field comes with numerous mental and physical challenges. Whether you’re in a faced-paced emergency room or in a patient’s home — being able to carry out your duties in a calm manner will be critical. Many times the healing process can be frustrating for an individual — your patient might not always be on their best behavior. Having patience equally serves you and your patient. 

A great way to practice patience is to roll with the punches without hesitation — look for the positive in every situation. Don’t be concerned if this quality takes time to perfect — you’ll have hiccups along the way and that is OK. 

3. Flexibility

As a CNA, you must place the needs and wants of your patients first. Realizing that these needs and wants often fluctuate will be beneficial to your success. As we strive to practice flexibility, we will be able to accommodate the mental and physical demands of the job. Changes in responsibilities can also be expected. Embracing change and remaining flexible, will equip you with the ability to complete your tasks effectively. 

Consider the flexibility the schedule of a nurse provides as well — CNAs often have more control of their schedule than the majority of working individuals. At times, you might need to stay longer or fill a shift unexpectedly — but the opportunity to control your work-life balance reigns supreme. 

4. Knowledge

The healthcare industry evolves daily. As a CNA, you have the added advantage of learning and adapting as you care for your patients. The knowledge that can be gained from working alongside peers and mentors is irreplaceable. If you consider yourself a lifelong learner, you’ll be grateful for the opportunity to continually progress. Being open and receptive to learning is the key to embracing this quality. Just as you gain new skills, share them with others at your place of employment. Teaching your peers sets the stage for working relationships built on trust, humility, and confidence. 

5. Communication

Communicating might just be what a CNA does most. Whether you are communicating with a fellow nurse, a doctor, or a patient — you are often the conduit of information. Successfully communicating in the workplace is essential to managing stress, teamwork, and exceptional patient care. 

Focus on being mindful of your nonverbal communication, too. What messages are you sending with your body language — and are they what you truly want to communicate? Maintaining eye contact, smiling, and keeping a relaxed upper body will enable both coworkers and patients to listen effectively. Strive to speak clearly and in a gentle manner. 

6. Empathy

It is important to remember that empathy differs from sympathy. Sympathy is feeling bad for someone, empathy is feeling bad with someone. Empathy allows CNAs to build connections and create a safe environment for patients to heal. If you can master the practice of empathy — other areas, such as, communication and patience, will benefit. 

An effective way to show empathy is by listening carefully and remaining engaged in the conversation. It’s important to ignore any judgement you might have toward a patient and remember that you are there to help them — that you should treat them as you would want to be treated. 

7. Attention to Detail

In nursing, the ability to pay attention to every little detail is essential. A mistake, even if unintentional, could harm the well-being of others. Be sure to take actions carefully and intentionally. Attention to detail is more than making sure your tasks are completed correctly, it also heavily focuses on the art of observation. In many scenarios as the CNA, you’ll be the first to see that a patient is in distress, uncomfortable, or in need. 

8. Endurance 

Nursing is physically demanding. The fast-paced environment is not only taxing physically but also mentally. Taking care of yourself first will play a vital role in your ability to serve others efficiently and effectively. As you gain experience, your stamina will increase. At the end of the day, if you leave feeling that you’ve accomplished your duties to the best of your ability — you’ve succeeded! On the other hand, the satisfaction you feel from physically enduring can also result from mentally enduring. There will be obstacles that challenge you, but each will help you develop the resilience you need. 

Developing qualities that benefit the effectiveness of your role as a CNA will take time. Focus on perfecting one and others will benefit from your efforts. Consider sharing your goals with others in the workplace — ask your peers and mentors to help you navigate the areas you want to improve. 

Download the Clipboard Health app today and start picking up shifts at facilities in your area! 

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Amy Smith

Amy is a former journalist, editor, and director of content in news, tech, business, and medical industries. When she isn't overseeing the content for Clipboard Health, she’s probably working on novels, trying to learn the ukulele, or playing in the surf with her Foxhound pup.