Make Your CNA Inservices Count

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How do you make the most of the time you spend on CNA continuing education? Here are four basic guidelines that will keep you on track.

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As a nursing supervisor, you know that your nursing assistants must meet their annual inservice requirement. In most states, this is a minimum of twelve hours of inservices per year, although that number jumps to 24 in some states. But, how do you make the most of the time you spend on CNA continuing education? How do you ensure that your inservices are helping to develop top-notch nursing assistants? And, what do surveyors look for when they review inservice records? Here are four basic guidelines that will keep you on track:

  • Any inservice you give should contain portable information. This means that the knowledge your nurse aides gain must serve them in any job, not just at your workplace. For example, if you review how to take blood pressures and instruct your CNAs on the importance of documenting vital signs, that’s an inservice. Your nursing assistants can put that knowledge to use no matter where they might work in the future. But, if you pass out a new vital signs flow sheet and teach your aides how to fill it out, that knowledge is workplace-specific and would not count as an inservice.
  • Inservices should consider the learning needs of your CNAs. Have you asked your aides lately what topics they would like to learn more about? Have your quality improvement studies uncovered a “weak area” that needs attention? What about annual performance reviews? Are there specific issues on which you should focus to ensure quality client care? It’s not enough to pick twelve topics each year that sound interesting. Surveyors want to see that your education plan targets specific, identified learning needs.
  • When planning your inservices for the year, you also need to take your clients into consideration. Do your aides have the knowledge they need to care for their clients? For example, if your CNAs work with a large number of diabetic clients, they should be well-educated about how diabetes can affect their daily work. They need to know the signs of hypo- and hyperglycemia; what a diabetic client should be eating; how exercise affects blood sugar levels and so on. Because Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are on the rise, many states require an annual inservice on how to work with cognitively impaired clients. Be sure to analyze your client population and take their needs into account as you create next year’s inservice calendar.
  • Make sure that a registered nurse oversees all CNA inservice training. You may enlist the help of office staff, therapists, LPNs, CNA preceptors or guest speakers, but the overall responsibility for inservicing your aides must fall on an RN. To satisfy state surveyors, your CNAs must be made aware of which registered nurse they can go to if they have questions about what they are learning. And, that nurse has to be available, either by phone or in person.

Your nursing assistants play a vital role within your nursing team. Let’s face it, they probably deliver up to 80% of the hands-on client care! When you consider that aides have the least amount of pre-employment education of any clinical employees, it’s clear that their ongoing on-the-job training is crucial. By following these four guidelines, you will be on your way to giving your CNAs the continuing education that they deserve. When you make each inservice count, your team, your clients and your organization all reap the benefits!

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