Tales of a Young CNA

Since before middle school I knew I wanted to be a doctor. In high school, I knew I could start gaining some experience in health care. I was lucky that my Anatomy & Physiology teacher recognized my dedication to medicine. She introduced me to the Geriatric Career Development (GCD) Program. Though GCD I was able to obtain certification as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). GCD exposed me to what it truly means to be a healthcare provider. Through the program, I was able to gain a lot experience in patient care. I am blessed to have had that opportunity at such a young age. Most people only become CNAs when they go to seek full-time vocational training at a community college. I was able to do it in high school without taking a gap year. I learned many things about the intricacies of human interaction.

I was able to see amazing things in the nursing home I worked in. I worked in the physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation floor. It was a very sobering experience seeing people some of which were athletes who have lost their ability to move. There was a young woman about my age now who was almost completely paralyzed due to meningitis. There was a 36-year-old biology teacher who was a single father trying to get back to his daughter. Those are some of the types of patients I helped treat. I also worked in the Alzheimer’s and dementia unit. The contrast between the two so different. One one hand you have people desperate to reattain their normalcy. On the other, there are people who are so far gone lost in their fragmented memories the can no longer function.  

As a CNA you play a vital role in the care of elderly and or injured patients. We help care for the essentials, giving dignity to those who can not care for themselves. Caring for someone’s basic needs is a very intimate thing: feeding, ambulation, perineal care are all essential tasks I performed. The practical training and real-world experiences have been an invaluable step in realizing my goals. When patients are admitted to a nursing home, they tend to be defensive. They are often not there of their own volition but rather familial pressure. People are prideful, which makes them unable to come to terms with their physical and mental decline. I have learned that acceptance is a gradual process, and we must show compassion to those seeking it. Through my experience as a CNA, I have learned not only the value, but the difference compassion can make when healing the sick. Above all I learned how to be objective, providing equal care to all in spite of racial hostility, disability, or mental illness. I learned that despite age or background or sexual orientation we are all people who long to be cared for and reassured by a sense of security.

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