For Your CNAs, General, Lifelong Learning

Working as a CNA: Why I Stay

This week, Corey Rotella, CNA, shares her thoughts about what keeps her on the job. We’d love to hear from nurse aides everywhere so please add your comments about working in health care!

Anyone working as a nursing assistant has chosen a very challenging path.  Poor compensation, workplace politics, short staffing, conflict between coworkers, irate and difficult residents, miscommunication, heavy lifting and the loss of those for whom we care all make for a tough work environment.  I definitely have lock-myself-in-the-linen-closet-to-get-myself-together moments.  And, I have my weepfest-over-a-pint-of-Ben-and-Jerry’s-ice-cream days.  So, why do I keep coming back? Why do I stay?

First of all, I embrace the challenge. I thrive on it. In my life, it is a rare and beautiful thing to be able to bring order to chaos rather than the other way around.

And, while I detest warring egos and unnecessary gossip, I love that I have learned how not to engage in it. This career has shown me the absolute necessity of leading by example. I have outlasted three changes in management in my facility. Some were great, some were terrible, but in one way or another, I have learned from them all and it’s the lessons more than anything that keep me coming back.

For example, I’ve learned how to resolve conflicts, the importance of dedication and flexibility, how to excel in the face of difficulties and that work ethic comes from within.  For every negative aspect of the job, I can list at least ten positive ways that I’ve grown.

But the real cherry on top is what I have learned from my residents.  They inspire me every day. To live with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, cancer or dementia and still laugh and love and find joy is nothing short of amazing.  It’s such an incredible gift to be a part of their lives…to walk them through the tough days and celebrate with them during their triumphs.  They have shown me the uselessness of the word “impossible.” Most importantly, they have taught me:

COURAGE: the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

HOPE: To place confidence; to trust with confident expectation of good

HUMOR: the mental faculty of discovering, expressing or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous

By watching my residents, I learned to strive for these three traits…and to demonstrate them daily in both my work and my personal life.  As a result, I have not only saved my sanity, I also vastly improved my quality of life.  At the end of the day, I love what I do!

Is everyday sunshine and rainbows? Are my residents always a delight? Of course not. But every day is worthwhile.  Every day, I get to be a part of the solution.  I get to make a small difference in my corner of the world.  I get to know why I am here and that I have a purpose. To me, that is priceless.

I would love to hear your stories. What brought you to the field of nursing and what keeps you here? After all, we learn from each other, too!

Until next time,


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