Sweet Sixteen
Top Qualities of a Great CNA

Things CNA's have to do

What it takes to be a successful Certified Nursing Assistant

You may be thinking about becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Perhaps you’ve even looked into some programs, so you already know that you’ll be spending at least 75 hours in a classroom and learning to perform the clinical skills you’ll need when you care for patients. It all sounds good, and you can’t wait to get started.

75 hours

of classroom time is required to become a CNA

What else does it take to be a successful CNA? Beyond your certification and the desire to help others, there are some important personal traits that will make your career more satisfying. Your ability to handle the usual kinds of events that happen in any workplace can extend to your care of patients and relationships with co-workers.

Here’s a list of 16 essential qualities that CNAs need to work well with patients and other team members:

16 Top Qualities of a Great Certified Nursing Assistant

  1. 1


    You will get a solid start during your CNA training program. After that, you’ll learn something on the job every day. There are always new patients with new diagnoses. You’ll be asked to do different procedures. Never hesitate to ask questions if you’re not familiar with a topic or technique. Questions are always an excellent way to learn.

  2. 2

    Communication skills

    In a team, everyone relies on accurate information from the others. You want to be able to share your observations with the nurse and document them on the patient’s chart. Your patients need you to listen well and offer support. They also need you to give them clear instructions.

    Nurse with a patient's chart

  3. 3


    A CNA is responsible for monitoring patients and noticing even small changes. A new bruise, a higher blood pressure, or a lack of appetite can all be significant. Because you spend your time giving direct care, you may be the first to observe and report something different or unusual in a patient that others hadn’t noticed.

  4. 4


    each day is different

    you need to be able to adapt

    For a CNA, every day is different. Some days are smooth; others seem to be a constant challenge to keep up. You may be asked to work a different shift or on the weekend. Or a co-worker might call in sick, requiring you to shift your patient load for the day. Being able to adapt to a new situation is an essential trait for anyone working in health care.

  5. 5


    Patients who are ill or disabled can require extra time even if you are busy. Helping stroke patients learn to dress or helping patients walk after surgery require a calm and encouraging demeanor. Your patience can make a difference in their healing.

  6. 6

    Emotional stability

    Caring for patients can be stressful. You witness them as they struggle with their diagnoses and their futures. Some of them will never get better, and some will die. Supporting them requires steadiness.

  7. 7

    Physical strength

    Your daily responsibilities include positioning, lifting, and transferring patients. You will also spend much of your shift on your feet. A certain level of physical strength is necessary to do your duties and help co-workers. Keeping yourself healthy should be a top priority.

  8. 8

    Attention to detail

    Health care is a precise field. No matter your position, patients depend on your ability to observe and report accurately. Whether you are weighing a patient, taking a temperature, or changing linens, you must do it properly. Being organized and keeping your tools in good order allow you to focus on your tasks.

  9. 9

    Time management

    There is something new happening each day. Prioritizing your tasks and using your time efficiently are necessary to give all your patients the care and attention they need. Good time management also reduces your own stress and allows you to take breaks and meals without worry.

  10. q


    Cooperation between medical team members

    Excellent patient care depends on team members helping each other. By helping each other during each shift, co-workers can accomplish more. Asking for assistance as well as offering it strengthens work relationships and increases job satisfaction.

  11. w


    Approaching every task or challenge with a resolve to do it as well as possible creates a positive attitude. Whether you are finding a better way to help a patient or learning to use new equipment, determination increases your success rate.

  12. e


    As a health care professional, you must have concern for those in your care. Patients have fears about their health and need your sympathetic support. Compassion also includes providing care without judgment about culture and beliefs, and speaking up to help them get the services they need.

  13. r


    Empathy is important for CNAs

    Unfortunately, empathy can’t be taught in a CNA program. It is your ability to put yourself in another’s place and understand how that person is feeling. Empathy lets you provide better care because you are helping patients from their point of view, not yours.

  14. t


    All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity. Certainly, each patient deserves respectful care, including maintaining privacy and confidentiality. Co-workers also require respect to feel appreciated. Finally, all employees should respect the rules and policies of their workplace.

  15. y


    A positive attitude and enthusiasm for your work have lasting effects, for you and others. If you believe that your patients benefit from your care, they will respond accordingly. Colleagues enjoy working with someone who isn’t a constant complainer. And finding the best in most situations contributes to good mental health and less burnout.

  16. u

    Satisfaction in small gains

    Sometimes, there is pleasure in helping a patient feel fresh after a bath or watching the person smile getting into the comfortable bed that you made. On busy days, if you can find a few moments when someone felt better because of your actions, then count the day as a success.

Not only do these qualities help you be a great CNA; they are also important for your personal life.

Go back and look at each of them again. Think of how useful they can be for making your relationships and home life more fulfilling. Thanks to your new career as a CNA, you will notice a pleasant difference both at work and afterward.

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