CNAs + Nurses = Teamwork

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Teamwork is great, right? Chances are, everyone at your workplace would agree that client care improves when nurses and CNAs work together as a team. Unfortunately, it can be a challenge!  Here are some recent comments we received from CNAs across the country:

“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.”  Valnecia
“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.“  Heather
“I have a lot of respect for nurses but some of them are only nice to the CNAs who are their friends. Nurses and CNAs should practice teamwork and respect each other's rights. Otherwise we are not going to have a peaceful work environment.”  Alisha
“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.”  Lori
It’s obvious from these comments that respect is a big issue among healthcare teams. So, when it comes to giving or receiving respect, which should come first? If you ask your co-workers, they might say things like:
  • “I’m not giving anyone respect who doesn’t show me respect first.”  
  • “I’d better show the nurses some respect so that they like me.” 
  • “My supervisor deserves respect and so do I.”
If you take a look at these three responses, you’ll probably agree that the first one sounds pretty aggressive. Let’s face it: if everyone had that attitude, no one would ever make the first move! Instead, everyone would be waiting for someone else to be respectful first.
The second response shows a lack of confidence; it’s more passive. Respect is not about liking or disliking someone. Two co-workers might not enjoy each other’s company, but they can still respect each other.
The last response is the most assertive response. Remember—being assertive means that you expect to both give and receive respect.
Here are some tips for both giving and receiving respect in the workplace:
  • Be kind to all the nurses and nursing assistants. 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.

For more information about how nursing assistants and nurses can work more effectively as a team, check out our new inservice, The CNA/Nurse Relationship.  Oh...and just one more thing.  THANKS for all you do!!!



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