CNAs & Nurses: Respectful Teamwork

Author imageLinda Leekley
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Nurses and nursing assistants are all part of the same team and have the same goal: to provide quality care to clients in need. So why is it that nurses and CNAs don’t always see eye to eye? 

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Like it the old fashioned way?

Nurses and nursing assistants are all part of the same team and have the same goal: provide quality care to clients in need. So why is it that nurses and CNAs don’t always see eye to eye? Here’s what a few CNAs across the U.S. had to say recently:

Valnecia said: I respect nurses for their education but they should realize that CNAs are their eyes and ears with the patients. I feel the nurses at my job do not take me seriously as if I don’t know what I am talking about. We need to learn to work together as a team and not against each other.

Guadalupe said: Nurses and CNAs should have respect for one another; this would not only help the patients but create a better work environment.

Heather said: I know we don’t have as much schooling as nurses but we’re not dumb and that’s how I feel that we’re treated sometimes. And, some of my fellow CNAs are terrible, too. They throw child-like tantrums when you ask them for some help. I just wish everyone would work together as a team.

Lori said: “I love my job and will stick it out but when I’m doing a good job and don’t get any good feedback-just constant criticism instead-that is when the going gets tough. Just a little praise goes a long way.”

Do any of the above statements sound familiar? If so, here are some tips you can share that may help promote respect between the nurses and CNAs at your workplace:

Be kind to everyone on the nursing team. Remember that working with sick and/or aging people can be emotionally exhausting. It can be very frustrating to work hard every day and see no improvement in your clients or even see them getting worse. Support your coworkers…and let them support you!

Put yourself in your co-workers shoes. Think about what it must be like to be them what they may be going through and why they behave as they do. When you try to understand other people, it’s easier to empathize with them.

Pull your own weight by fulfilling your assigned duties. But, remain flexible, too! Your assignment may change from week to week, from day to day or even from hour to hour. And, when someone asks you to help with a task that’s not one of your regular duties, try to avoid saying, That’s not my job.

Be passionate about your work. By showing others that you love your work, you become a shining example for others to follow.

Do the right thing. If you approach your work with honesty and integrity and do your best at all times you will respect yourself for a job well done. And self-respect is so important! Remember the old Spanish proverb, If you want to be respected, you must first respect yourself.

Keep on learning. Take every opportunity to learn new things. Complete extra inservices and then apply what you learn during your daily work with clients. The more you know, the more valuable you become to yourself, your co-workers and to your workplace.

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For more about teamwork between nurses and CNAs, consider our inservice modules: The CNA/Nurse Relationship and Working with a Team.

Until next time!


Linda Leekley BS, RN

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