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  • The Joy and Aggravation of Being a Career Nursing Assistant
  • Donald Koenig

I am a male career nursing assistant with 10 years experience. I also happen to be the Ohio Chair Person for the Male Nursing Assistants Task Force. This task force is designed to help recruit, offer continuing education, increase public awareness, and help maintain the good quality men that work as career nursing assistants.

Today I want to talk to you about what it is like to be a nursing assistant. Let me walk you through a day of a nursing assistant. I work the day shift. My day starts at 6:45 am. The first thing I do when I arrive at work is to check the schedule for three things: first, to see what my assignment is; second, to note how many nursing assistants are scheduled for the whole nursing home for that shift; and finally, I check to see if there are any shower aides scheduled and, if so, what sections they are assigned to that day.

Once I arrive at my assignment area I check to see how many of my residents are showers and how many assistants from the night shift have already done the morning care of getting residents dressed and up for the day. Federal Regulations are one nursing assistant for every fifteen residents. There are some days that there are more staff scheduled and I will have fewer residents; unfortunately those days do not occur often enough. If I am lucky I end up only having six to eight residents to do morning care with.

Now it is time for the breakfast trays to arrive on the floor. Even though I am only assigned to take care of my residents, I have to help pass trays to all residents on my side of the building (61 in my case). First I pass the trays to all residents that require help eating or are total feeds. It is now about 8:30 a.m. and all the residents have been fed and it is time to pick up all the trays and record their intake.

Now I am ready to get my report from the nurse and start doing my morning get-ups. Like I said earlier, I have anywhere from six to eight residents to do morning care with. This will include washing, [End Page 141] dressing, mouth and hair care and finally getting them up into their chair. I usually have about two or two and a half hours to accomplish this before it is time for me to go to lunch. During the time I am doing morning care, I am also responsible for answering call lights in my section for all fifteen residents under my care. Most sections will have residents who require two or three assistants per resident for transfers from bed to chair, so when it is time to transfer I have to go looking for help in my area and also must help my co-workers with their transfers. So what this averages out to, if I am lucky, is about fifteen minutes with each resident. I do not know about you but I take longer than that to get ready in the morning. It is now 11:00 a.m. and time for my lunch break of 30 minutes, my first break of the day to sit and relax.

It is now lunchtime and there are four aides on the floor. Two at a time go to lunch, leaving the other two to cover the floor for the next hour. Hopefully, everyone got all their residents up and all you have to do is answer call lights, which can be for anything from wanting a pain pill, or wanting to go to the toilet, or needing to be changed because they had an accident. Oh yes, and in between all that I start to take residents down to one of the two dining rooms. One dining room is for those who can feed themselves and the other is for residents who need assistance eating or need to be fed.

Lunch is over for the aides and it is time for two aides to...


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pp. 141-143
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