Top 8 Challenging Aspects of Being a CNA

There are numerous challenging aspects of being a CNA.

These healthcare professionals play essential roles in ensuring patients receive adequate bedside care and support.

They also help registered nurses, practitioners, and physicians manage various aspects of patient care.

Being a CNA is highly rewarding for those who want to impact the lives of people in their community.

However, this career is also very demanding and challenging due to its limitations of this profession.

This article examines the challenges of being a CNA to understand the impact on healthcare and occupational limits.

1. Few Career Opportunities

One of the most challenging aspects of being a CNA is the limited career opportunities it offers nurse assistants.

Unlike registered nurses with over one hundred specializations, there are very few occupations CNAs can pursue.

Some CNAs take senior roles or specialize in pediatrics, geriatrics, or home care.

However, there aren’t many other options beyond entry-level roles.

As a result, CNAs who want higher-level careers typically return to school to become registered nurses.

Becoming a CNA provides a fantastic opportunity to learn about healthcare and gain work experience.

It also enables individuals to determine whether a career in this field is right for them.

Nonetheless, it’s a starting point for aspiring nurses pursuing advanced careers in higher-level healthcare jobs.

Those who pursue certified nurse assistant jobs long-term frequently find it difficult to advance without further education.

2. Limited Scope of Practice

Certified nurse assistants ensure patients receive primary bedside care.

They also support medical professionals by managing lower-level tasks so specialists can focus on higher-level duties.

Nevertheless, their limited education and training restrict the tasks they can perform without frequent oversight.

Most CNAs work under the supervision of LPNs, registered nurses, physicians, and other specialists.

These healthcare workers cannot perform various essential tasks without receiving prior approval.

As a result, they frequently report a lack of meaning, authority, and autonomy in their career roles and responsibilities.

Numerous CNAs also mention feeling a lack of respect due to their occupational limitations.

Since they follow the leadership of other healthcare professionals, it’s not always easy to act independently or speak up.

3. Physically Demanding Work

A certified nurse assistant’s career revolves around providing direct bedside care.

It includes feeding, bathing, cleaning, and moving patients.

CNAs also spend long sessions standing and walking, sanitizing their work environment, and hauling heavy equipment.

As a result, their work is very demanding on the body.

Over time this leads to physical stress and ailments like foot, joint, leg, and back pain.

Those with health conditions or injuries may find it difficult to sustain the long-term physical labor required in CNA work. 

4. Salary Constraints

As previously mentioned, CNAs have limited career opportunities.

As a result, it’s much more difficult for them to obtain high-paying positions within their discipline.

LPNs and registered nurses earn significantly more due to their higher education and career roles.

Therefore, CNAs who want to make more money must pursue additional schooling to become LPNs or registered nurses.

Obtaining registered nursing careers is particularly beneficial as these professionals earn 3x or more than CNAs.

Some registered nurses make six-figure salaries by working in specific domains and high-paying states/locations.

5. Undesirable Work Shifts

Most CNAs operate at 24/7 healthcare facilities.

As a result, they work morning, noon, and night shifts to ensure patients receive adequate bedside care and support.

CNAs also work during weekends and holidays due to healthcare work.

Operating as a full-time CNA is challenging for some people with families and obligations outside work.

Those who work evening/night shifts lose family time as they are constantly away from home or resting after work.

It’s also tough during holidays because they need to work when people get to spend thanksgiving or Christmas together.

If having weekends, holidays, or nights and weekends off is essential to your mental health and social life, being a CNA may not be ideal.

6. Exposure to Viruses and Blood

CNAs frequently experience exposure to viruses, hazardous chemicals, and dangerous substances due to their work.

Providing bedside care enables CNAs to keep patients comforted, healthy, and supported.

However, it also puts them at risk of becoming infected by viruses, cross-contamination, blood, and other bodily fluids.

Certified nurse assistants must take proper precautions and safety procedures to limit exposure.

Nevertheless, there are always health risks when working directly with people, regardless of the safety measures.

CNAs also risk getting their family and friends sick due to constant exposure.

As a result, it’s challenging to work in infectious settings knowing their health and the well-being of their loved ones are at risk.

7. Burnout and Work Overload

Workplace burnout is common in busy, understaffed healthcare facilities.

CNAs manage numerous bedside care duties to adequately support their patients’ and coworkers’ needs.

They also work weekends and holidays for various hours, including morning, evening, and night shifts.

As a result, CNAs often experience fatigue and burnout due to high demand and a lack of adequate rest.

Long-term work overload leads to less motivation, increased anxiety, and a higher risk of medical errors.

Unfortunately, managing workplace fatigue in active, understaffed environments is challenging.

CNAs who want to work more regular hours in less stressful environments may need to go to part-time or change jobs.

8. Workplace Violence

Depending on where a healthcare worker operates, some locations are known to have a high level of workplace violence.

Assisting unruly patients is challenging in any healthcare setting, especially when there isn’t much support or protection.

CNAs may face workplace violence in specific hospitals, correctional facilities, or other high-risk locations.

Some healthcare workers also experience harassment, intimidation, or discrimination.

There are numerous things healthcare facilities can do due to improving safety standards within their institutions.

It includes improving security and safety and educating healthcare workers on managing potentially violent patients.

Unfortunately, there will always be risks of physical and verbal threats in this profession.

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