CNAs: The Benefits of Learning Go Beyond the Job!

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As every CNA knows, things change rapidly in health care.  This means that nursing assistants can't "rest on their laurels" and claim that they know all they need to know to do their jobs.  Having an active, open mind and a true desire to continue learning go a long way toward being an effective CNA.

Studies have shown that an hour of increased brain activity can make a person smarter, more energetic, creative and open to new ways of thinking. Of course, completing inservices or reading medical information online are two ways to increase your brain activity.

However, there are countless ways to exercise your mind that have nothing to do with medicine-but will still help keep your mind stimulated and ready for "on the job" learning. Here are just a few:

  • Listen to a radio station that you normally don't enjoy. Try to find something interesting about the music you hear.
  • Throughout your day, if you find yourself waiting (in line at the grocery store, waiting for an elevator or at a red light), use that time to stretch your mind. For example, run through the multiplication tables in your head; try to remember all your teachers' names, starting with kindergarten; recite the alphabet backwards; or name all 50 states in alphabetical order.
  • Learn how to write backwards. Or try writing upside down. You can also challenge your brain by reading backward or upside down!
  • Shower with your eyes closed. This forces your brain to rely on other senses besides sight to get the job done.
  • Take a different route to work. Following an unfamiliar route integrates new sights, smells and sounds into your memory.
  • If possible, change something about your daily work routine. Complete tasks in reverse order or take your break at a different time of day. Go ahead...mix it up a little!
  • If your workplace has an elevator or an ATM, you'll probably find instructions in Braille for visually impaired people. Close your eyes and practice "reading" the words or numbers with your fingers.
  • Try eating one meal a day with your non-dominant hand. So, if you are right-handed, hold your fork and pick up your glass with your left hand. (You might also try brushing your teeth or drying your hair with your non-dominant hand.)
  • At the grocery store, change the way you travel through the aisles. And, pick up a fruit or vegetable that you've never tried before. New tastes exercise the brain, too!
  • Close your eyes while you eat, identifying each food by its taste, smell, temperature and texture.
  • If you and your family always sit in the same chairs for meals or TV watching, change things up! Have everyone take a different seat to force the brain to see things from a different viewpoint.
  • Master a new gadget, learn a new program on your computer or figure out all the "bells and whistles" on your cell phone!
  • Walk backwards (carefully!) through your whole house.

Remember, doing the same day-to-day routines can deaden the brain. Daily tasks become almost subconscious and are completed using a minimum of brain energy. This may be efficient, but rigid routines provide no exercise for the brain. So, perk up your day-and keep your brain active-by incorporating a few of the above tips into your life. In the long run, it will keep you young and make you better at your job!


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