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A Day in the Life: CNA Students in Class and on the Floor
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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.

Brady Keeter    
December 11, 2018

By Brady Keeter

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.

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