<h2>A Day in the Life: Stepping into the Shoes of Instructors</h2>
Brady Keeter
December 11, 2018
Instructors' influence on CNA staffing and organization quality is undeniable. As the number of CNAs needed across the country continues to grow, so does the need for CNA candidates to train and, ultimately, fill those positions.

By Brady Keeter

As I talked about in last week’s post, one of my top priorities when joining Straightaway was getting to know our key users quickly. When I started to dig into various personas, one stood out to me – Instructors. Their influence on CNA staffing and organization quality is undeniable. As the number of CNAs needed across the country continues to grow, so does the need for CNA candidates to train and, ultimately, fill those positions.  Instructors have a direct role in the optimization of these processes.

Instructors spend significant time each week preparing, teaching, practicing with and, in many cases, recruiting CNA candidates. See the average breakdown below.

Preparing/Reporting – approximately 10 hrs each week

As I spoke with and observed instructors across the country, I made note of the significant amount of time instructors spend preparing for their classes. Even those who have been teaching CNA classes for years spent time preparing for each class like it was their first. From taking notes in textbooks, to printing out materials, to making last-minute changes to their roster, the list of items on the prep checklist seemed go on and on. It’s important to note these preparation duties were not limited to the in-class format; online courses required the same amount of preparation.

I also group the responsibility of attendance tracking, clinical assessment tracking, and reporting into the “preparation bucket.” We all know record keeping is important and this is no small feat for Instructors. On top of their other responsibilities, they must ensure they abide by the reporting requirements for their organization and for their state. The level of detail demanded here drives a need for improvement and optimization.

Teaching/Instruction – approximately 15 hrs each week

It’s no question that the majority of an instructor’s time is spent teaching students the concepts they need to know to be successful CNAs. What isn’t always clear is how various instructors conduct their classes and, in particular, how their student’s pass rates were influenced by this. Some instructors read directly from the text book, giving real life examples as they progressed through the class. Others provide engaging activities for their students to help with concept retention. The most meaningful interactions involved the use of personal stories to help future CNAs understand life in the shoes of their future patients and residents. One instructor I surveyed conducted an activity where students were asked to eat food similar to the food served in long term care facilities — in both taste and texture. In her mind, this helped them truly empathize with their patients and understand how life can be different for them. You better believe those students excelled with feeding questions and skills/procedures on their exam.

Practicing – approximately 10 hrs each week

Class schedules really seemed to vary from organization to organization, and even class to class, but one thing remains consistently remarkable: the number of extra hours instructors put into helping their students master skills and procedures. Because each skill and procedure has critical steps students cannot miss during the certification exam, it is imperative to practice each of these multiple times with an instructor’s assistance. Like with everything else, instructors often get creative with ways to help students retain the information needed to do well on the exam.

Recruiting – approximately 5 hrs each week

Perhaps the most surprising of my all the things I learned, was the level of effort many instructors put into the recruitment of students for their classes. Ultimately, instructors, especially those who have been teaching for some time, know the types of students who will be most successful. Not only will these students be more likely to pass the exam and become certified, they are likely to be the best CNAs once on the job, and stay. Many instructors I spoke with were spending several hours each week recruiting, interviewing, and vetting out potential CNA candidates for their upcoming classes. This does not mean that all instructors should now take on the duties of recruiting students, but it did mean they know the attributes of successful CNA students and how to spot someone meant for the job. 

While much of what instructors do is tactical, I was struck by how focused instructors were on preparing their students for the emotional aspects of their future jobs as CNAs. From sharing their personal experiences to spending weekends and nights practicing skills and procedures with their students, these key users are arguably the most influential in the success of their students. Making their lives easier through streamlined workflows is our mission, not only to make things easier for them, but so they can spend more time with more students sharing the power of story.

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