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CNA Skills Needed to be a Successful Certified Nursing Assistant

Updated on July 14, 2011

CNA clinical skills

Certified nursing assistants, like most other nursing field professionals, are experiencing steady job growth, job stability, and the possibility of more lucrative salaries. Based on the expertise, training and experience of the CNA, the job outlook can be quite positive. There are some set skills that all CNAs must possess to begin a career in this field since these are the skills that they will be using daily.

The most basic CNA skills are the ability to provide personal care to patients. CNAs are responsible for assisting and sometimes completely performing very intimate personal care duties such as bathing, shaving, and dressing the patients, performing oral care and other personal hygiene duties and assisting the patients with their toileting needs. CNAs are also usually in charge of meals. This can be as simple as assisting the patient or as involved a feeding a whole meal to an incapacitated patient. A CNA needs to be completely comfortable with these duties, since they will be a major part of her responsibilities. She also needs be respectful and professional in order to make the patients comfortable and secure while assisting them since these can be potentially embarrassing situations for the patients.

Organization is another valuable skill for CNAs. Some light cleaning and organization of the patients’ space are the responsibility of CNAs. This skill is also valuable with the large amount of record keeping and services that CNAs must perform.

CNA skills include being good record keepers and being proactive about the patients’ needs. CNAs are responsible for updating the patients’ charts, including taking and recording the patients’ blood pressure and other vital signs, keeping track of the meals and liquids ingested, making notations of any reactions due to medicines and food intake and even the changes in patients’ moods. They also need to be quick about reporting any changes they notice to the RN or physician in charge so that a patient’s treatment can be adjusted.

Agility in both thinking and performing duties is also part of the basic CNA skills needed to perform this job successfully. CNAs are responsible for many duties, sometimes all at once, and they need to be quick about managing all their duties in order to provide the best care available for patients. Because CNAs are responsible for the welfare of their patients, and that includes any fall or injury a patient receives or causes to another patient, CNAs need to be comfortable thinking and dealing quickly with any emergency situations.

Other CNA skills that are important are empathy and compassion. While these two things might seem more like qualities, they are actual vital skills that make CNAs successful. Most likely the patients that CNAs are assigned will be elderly, disabled or recovering patients who are struggling to take care of themselves or cannot care for themselves at all. The work will involve duties that might make the patients and their caretakers uncomfortable unless the caretaker, in this case the CNA, can be compassionate about and empathize with the patient.

Basic CNA Skill: Handwashing


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      Leah C 3 years ago

      You have inserted a great video for handwashing! Thanks for sharing it with us! Not only CNAs should do so, I think many people can also learn how to wash hand in a professional way. I have started my very little blog about CNA training and career development If you have time, you are welcome to visit my blog and leave good feedbacks, so I can make my blog more useful for readers. Thanks!