Clinical training for new CNAs is critical to their career success. Spending time in a long-term care center or nursing facility before certification is necessary to learn the basic procedures for nursing care. Without this familiarity, new nursing assistants will not have the skills they need to protect their patients or themselves from injury. Clinical training is one of the most important aspects of the training process and being prepared for it will help you make the most out of your time as a trainee.
Nursing Homes, Long-term Care Centers, and Hospices
The main types of facilities that allow student nursing assistants to begin training are nursing homes. These are the main employers of CNAs, making them the most practical setting for gaining on-the-job experience. Other types of facilities that allow new CNAs to practice their clinical skills are long-term care centers and hospices. Long-term care centers are much like nursing homes, but vary in the services they offer. Hospices are mainly for patients nearing their death from ailments with no cure. All of these settings force the nursing assistant to face varying levels of disability, weakness, and disease. Prepare to encounter many elderly patients that have disfiguring and sometimes off-putting ailments. Treat everyone with respect, as they are someone’s loved one.
Practicing Clinical Skills
The most important aspect of clinical training is practicing the skills needed for CNA work. The job requires hands-on interactions with patients and so training provides this experience to students. The first rotation you complete may only expose you to the most basic skills, as you are not fully-trained yet. Practicing infection control, feeding patients, and making patients’ beds will most likely be the first skills you encounter. In later visits, you will begin to practice transferring patients to and from their beds, using mechanical lifts and support devices, and bathing patients. Make sure that by the end of your clinical rotations you have encountered all of the skills that will be covered on your skills exam for state certification. The real-world environment is one of the best for practice.
It is not expected that new CNAs will have many contacts in the healthcare field. Most are beginners switching careers. Inside the nursing home, you will be exposed to a small network of nursing professionals. You will be supervised by your instructors, but there will also be Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and other Certified Nursing Assistants working at the facility where you train. This is a good opportunity to get to know other professionals in the field of nursing. Clinical training is not a social time, but there are also valuable opportunities to meet peers and learn more about nursing.