Before Thanksgiving, I wrote a post giving you a glimpse into the lives of Instructors. This week I am shifting gears to focus on Administrators.
Many roles fall under the “Administrator” umbrella. From quarterbacking the daily operations of a skilled nursing facility to managing budgets and reports, working with residents and their family members, and reacting to staff shortages, this job comes with a lot of responsibility. A couple of these are highlighted below.
I asked several Administrators what motivated them; most answered with “providing quality care for the residents in my facility.” Many Administrators come from nursing or clinical backgrounds and have been in long-term care for most of their careers. They truly care about making a difference in the lives of the residents and patients with whom they work. Making a difference requires daily participation in resident care plan reviews and adjustments, as well as having tough, emotional conversations with resident family members. Many Administrators estimated they spent close to half of their day working with residents, front-line caregivers, and family members.
Outside of direct resident care, Administrators spend time ensuring their front-line caregivers are providing the quality of care needed by their residents. Many new front-line caregivers, mostly CNAs, do not start their jobs prepared for the emotional aspects of a job in skilled nursing. They often look to their mentors and management for guidance when navigating the death of a resident or a tough interaction with a resident’s family member. Most of the Administrators I spoke with felt providing guidance to new employees was a given, but thought training and preparation for the job could be improved to help them hit the ground running and minimize the emotional impact that many new caregivers feel.
Every Administrator knows, all too well, the direct connection between resident care and staffing. Administrators must align staffing decisions with daily resident changes to ensure the best care outcomes. Many of today’s Administrators are starting to think about their future staffing needs, but don’t have the insight or data they need to start making staff capacity decisions. While they may know their turnover numbers, they may not know how to combat them, what the most effective methods for retention and recruitment are, or how to compete against the facility 5 miles down the road. The thought of doing the same reactive staffing keeps them up at night; they know they need a different approach — one that allows them to control their own destiny, proactively combat shortages, and provide the best care.
A couple of weeks ago our team traveled to Music City (Nashville, TN) for a meeting with our National Advisory Board. While we were there, we wrote and recorded “Administrator Blues,” a fun, but honest look at the staffing hurdles facing Administrators today. Take a listen!
I’ve had the opportunity to observe many CNA students in my role here at Straightaway, including our own Seth Coley, who went through CNA training in North Carolina. I’ve learned a lot from my CNA peers and I’ve especially gained some clarity around the challenges they face both in and out of school. Many of these students, in addition to attending class everyday, whether in person or online, also work a full-time job (or jobs) or they may take care of other people in their family (children, elderly family members).
A Day in the Life
Some huge obstacles that many CNA trainees face are the discrepancies between what they see in the classroom and what they witness in practical application. During clinical training, trainees typically observe current nurse aides to learn about the application of procedures. It’s not unusual for students to find themselves observing skills and procedures in a way that is far different from what they learned in class. It became clear to me that students need clear guidance on the do’s and don’t’s of procedures and how to balance seeing them performed incorrectly and passing their state exams.
In my research, I found that the major reason students are seeing improper procedure executions: poorly trained nurse aides and short staffing and cut corners to maintain some semblance of care. This does not always mirror what you learned in class. So what does this mean for the future of care?
Current training does not set correct expectations for life on the floor.
Students spend their days practicing procedures and skills and reviewing materials when time allows. Exam day comes around and they have to demonstrate these skills and procedures as they learned them in class but not as they saw them in practice. It’s our job to translate classroom materials to practical application, because ultimately students are inclined to perform what makes sense at the time of execution. It’s key that the CNA class teaches them the proper way to do things but also sets clear expectations for practical application. Historically this has not done well, hence the major discrepancy.
Not only do students face personal hardships and classroom challenges, but the system is not designed for them. Millennials and Generation Z make up most CNA students today. Students in these age groups typically spend almost half a business day on their phones looking at a variety of content. From this it’s easy to see that old way of doing things does not cater to them.
Key Takeaways from this Day in the Life
CNA students will inevitably face challenges in their personal lives and with their education, but it’s important to streamline their experience to the best of our ability to ensure the highest quality education and subsequent level of care. We should strive to cater to our current and future students’ needs to the best of our ability — starting with the quality of training.