How Difficult is CNA Work?

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Are you interested in becoming a certified nursing assistant and looking for information on what you would be able to do? Are you starting a new job and anticipating your duties? If either of these questions applies to you, you’ve come to the right place.

Becoming a CNA is generally most student’s stepping stone to becoming a nurse. It allows them to get experience working in a medical setting and begin to learn about various medical events, procedures, and general patient care.

This article will detail the CNA’s tasks, the most challenging part of being a CNA, and even the typical locations where CNAs work. All you have to do is keep reading for more information. Happy reading.

What Can a Certified Nursing Assistant Do?What Can a Certified Nursing Assistant Do?

A certified nursing assistant is someone whose position is significant. They have several responsibilities which aid the doctors and nurses around them every day. Though a CNA is considered an entry-level position, it can be an extremely valuable starting point for healthcare professionals.

So, what exactly can a certified nursing assistant do? A CNA works closely with the nurses around them and is in a direct customer-facing position. They are typically referred to as nurse’s aids or patient assistance care aids. Several tasks are associated with this position; these tasks include the following:

Provide Medications to Patients

A CNA has the trusted authority to pass outpatient medication in a variety of states but not all. The ability to do so will sometimes depend on the passing of additional medication training. However, they are not allowed to administer all medications. If a patient receives an injection or a shot, a CNA cannot distribute it. Things like insulin must be given by an LPN or higher.

Aid in Blood Sugar Readings

Though a CNA can not give shots or injections, they can take a patient blood sugar. If you are unfamiliar with doing this, this often includes pricking the individual with a small needle to force blood flow. This ability may depend on the facility you are working at, as different rules may vary everywhere.

Bandage Changes

A CNA typically will not provide complete wound care to a patient; however, they will aid in the healing process by changing dressings. This is often after training has occurred to teach the CNA how to perform a proper dressing change. Supervision by RN or an additional nurse may also be performed.


A CNA has the authority to perform basic vital checks for heart rates and blood pressures. A CNA can also aid in feeding patients as well as updating patient documentation.


CNA’s will often aid in maintaining the cleanliness of rooms and linens, stocking and replenishing supplies as well as collecting supplies. CNAs will usually assist with patient transport and other patient-related logistics.

These are a range of typical CNA functions; however, responsibilities and duties will often vary based on the facility and type of facility you are working in. It may seem like these are low-level tasks; however, all of these tasks are critical parts of patient care. A properly trained CNA can save a person’s life.

Where Can CNAs Work?

Where Can CNAs Work?

There are several locations where a CNA can work. Each setting offers a different experience within the medical field. The list below contains common locations where you will find CNAs or where you can potentially work.


One of the most common places that you will find CNAs is a hospital. You will often find them helping nursing staff by feeding and rotating patients and aiding in patient transfer.

Assisted Living Facilities

Individuals living in these facilities are not looking for around-the-clock care. The needs may vary from person to person. Some individuals may need something as simple as bathing and feeding, while others may need aid with their medical needs.

Nursing Homes

Another place where you will commonly find CNAs is in nursing homes. They are often a large portion of the staff and highly beneficial for ensuring adequate patient care. Some CNAs may provide aid by performing their medical tasks, being social, and leading social activities with residents. Offering companionship can sometimes be more critical than providing medical care.


CNAs who work in hospice work in a team to make a patient’s last moments fulfilling and structured. They will often do things like give medication, cook meals and monitor a person’s condition.

Home Healthcare

Home healthcare is a popular arena for CNAs. They will often help individuals with their basic needs like bath, cleaning, and even cooking meals during this time. This service allows individuals who can still live an independent life to do so with some assistance when needed.


Did you know that CNAs may even work in schools? Though they are typically not allowed to be the only nurse in the building, they will assist the permanent nurse with medication administration, first aid assistance, and even updating medical records. CNAs will also help to provide safety training and educational awareness.

Military & Government Facilities. 

Another Avenue where CNAs are needed and appreciated is within government facilities. These facilities may include places like military hospitals, health agencies, and VA medical centers.

What are the Challenges CNAs Face at Work?

What are the Challenges CNAs Face at Work?

Like any job, if there are pros, there must also be cons. A certified nursing assistant is a rewarding jump start to a career in healthcare. However, as a CNA, you may face several challenges that come with working in the medical field. Though all of these challenges may not always apply, they are a reality depending on the venue you choose to administer your services in.

Patient Abuse

One thing that some CNAs may experience is patient abuse. Though this may sound farfetched, if you speak to a longstanding healthcare worker, they will have several stories related to abuse they have experienced at the hands of a patient. This can include kicking, biting, punching, or even spitting. This can be a result of dementia, or some patients may even do so out of anger. This can happen when administering patient care, attempting to give medicine, or during general patient interactions.

Low Pay

Low pay is also a challenge that many will likely need to overcome. Often the duties given to CNAs are the most physically demanding and at times demeaning; however, they are paid the least. These tasks may include things like lifting patients, changing diapers, and cleaning up other bodily fluids.

Lack of Respect

One major challenge of being a CNA is the lack of respect given to individuals in the position. Many LPNs and even RNs may have the notion that CNAs are simply cheap labor. They do some of the most challenging tasks but have the least amount of education.

High Patient to CNA Ratio/Inadequate Staffing

Inadequate staffing is a significant issue within the healthcare industry. The need for nurses continues to rise each day and can be seen firsthand in medical facilities. At short-staffed facilities, CNAs will often find themselves assigned more patients than they can handle.

How Difficult is CNA Work?

How Difficult is CNA Work?

Though some work that CNAs perform is not extremely demanding, other portions of the job may not be as easy. Several tasks may be simple, like feeding a patient or charting on patients; however, much of a CNAs day is not this easy. There are several pros and cons of being a CNA. There are three characteristics that come into play when thinking about ways to describe how difficult CNA work is. These characteristics include being physically demanding, mentally draining, and overwhelming.

Physically Demanding

Patient care is by no mean a walk in the park. When a job description mentions that a CNA must aid in patient transport, this means assisting with lifting and transporting patients to and from wheelchairs and beds. However, the worst part of being a CNA may be the long hours spent on your feet. Another thing to consider is the long hours and the flexibility which may be needed when someone misses a shift.

Mentally Draining

Medical staff will often have to deal with patient emotions, healthcare scares, and even the death of patients. This can be hard after you have been working with someone for a long time. This can be the sad reality when a patient’s case worsens, or an elder gives up on fighting for their life. Patients will also share information about themselves, good and bad.


Like any job, being a CNA can be overwhelming. However, it is not impossible. If you are genuinely passionate about your work, being a CNA can be an enriching experience.

Should You Work as a CNA?

Should You Work as a CNA?

If you’ve made it this far likely, your interest in being a CNA hasn’t changed. However, it takes a unique individual to be a CNA. It may be easy to talk about what may be the worst part of being a CNA; however, there are still so many upsides, with the most important being that the patient literally needs you.

CNAs are in high demand, and despite some of the stigmas they may face, they are always needed.

Several characteristics make up those that a CNA should have; we have listed just a few of them.

Caring & Compassionate

These two qualities make being a CNA or even a nurse an asset to anywhere they may go. Individuals who are caring do things out of kindness and not for the sake of a paycheck. They care about the patient no matter how hard the work may get.


A CNA should be flexible. Though there are several pros and cons of being a CNA, the ultimate item that can fall on either one of these lists is scheduling. A CNA must be flexible and prepared to put in time where the individual is needed, though you may have a set schedule.

Passion for Patients

A CNA must have a passion for patients and providing clinical care. This means that you can endure various patient circumstances without losing your temper. You should also be ready and willing to learn and grow for the sake of not only your career but the patient’s wellbeing.

Wrapping Things Up: How Difficult is CNA Work?

CNA work may be hard, but it is not impossible. Being a CNA is a stepping stone for a long healthcare career. CNAs work in several different environments. These may include hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and even government facilities. There are several needs for CNAs in this different environment, each with its own rewards and challenges.

However, this profession isn’t for everyone. These challenges can range and include things from low pay to even patient abuse. However, an individual can get through even the most complex parts of being a CNA with the right mindset.

To be a CNA, you must possess a number of characteristics that will aid you in providing optimal patient care. These characteristics include being compassionate as well as flexible. Is being a CNA difficult? Yes. However, is being a CNA a rewarding profession despite it all?  Yes!

Looking for more CNA resources? You may find these helpful:

> Is it Hard to Become a CNA?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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