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I've been working as a CNA for a couple of months and I haven't particularly enjoyed it. I'm trying to figure out if my unhappiness is a sign that I should look elsewhere for a career in healthcare, instead of PA. Currently I work in a rehab/LTC facility and the job is pretty draining for me. I don't mind most of the bodily functions associated with the work or the physical closeness with patients. I think what bothers me the most is taking care of patients who are mentally out of it to an extreme degree. One of the ladies that I have to get up in the morning cries endlessly and it's horrible. It doesn't have anything to do with the care AFAIK as she also cries in her sleep. She's incredibly contracted and stiff so it takes about 45 minutes just to get her changed/dressed and the entire time she cries heavily and it's traumatic. The CNA who trained me with her looks completely dead from years of this kind of work and I'm struggling to find meaning in all of it. On the other hand, a lot of my patients are really wonderful people who I enjoy helping and are extremely grateful for what I do. That's rewarding, and I try to focus on that aspect of being a CNA. 

 

I guess my ultimate question, especially to people who did CNA for PCE, is did you enjoy being a CNA? Were these struggles an issue for you? Would it be better if I could transition to a hospital? Should I reconsider my path based on my experience so far and look for something in healthcare with a little more distance from the patient? (Was thinking about pharmacy). I know the role of PA is markedly different from that of a CNA, but I can't help feeling like if I don't enjoy what I do right now, it might be a sign that a career of close interaction with patients isn't for me. Although a PA doesn't clean up poop/urine/struggle with heavy patients all day and I'm trying to remind myself of that. I do know for sure that I don't want to be a CNA for longer than I have to.

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I’d say it’s not that you don’t like medicine it’s that you don’t like hospital/long term care medicine.  

As a PA student I hated the hospital medicine.  Dreaded rounding, couldn’t handle the smell of hospitals/nursing homes/ LTAC’s during the 2 months I spent in internal medicine/infectious diseases.  But I absolutely love outpatient medicine especially primary care.  

Dont give up on the dream because one branch of medicine isn’t appealing to you.  See if you can find some work even part time in a clinic setting, shadow some providers in primary care or specialties you have thought you’d like. 

As an upperclassman once told me when I was struggling during rotations “the juice is worth the squeeze!” And man was he absolutely right!  Don’t give up just yet!!

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I started off as a CNA at a nursing home/ LTC facility and it was tough. Thankfully, it was only part time. Along with some of the issues you've stated, I also felt it was physically taking a toll on me. (RIP to my back, gone but never forgotten) I did question whether or not this was the right career path for me but honestly I'm glad I started at the nursing home, it taught me patience, resilience and made me reaffirm my decision in going into this field, because you literally get your feet wet lol. Then when I transitioned into the hospital it was smooth sailing! Less patients, more acute work, get to work with multidisciplinary professionals, gain more medical/healthcare knowledge etc. and I love it! However, still some of my coworkers literally hate coming to work every day because they're spoiled, meanwhile I always reflect on the times I had at the nursing home and how it shaped me to be a competent and grateful CNA, and hopefully in the long run a PA 

TL;DR gain experience at nursing home, transition to CNA at hospital, become a PA :) 

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I was a CNA at both nursing homes and at the hospital for about 1.5 years and yes, it's very, very draining both emotionally and physically. Even at the hospital, the management is chaotic and we are often short staffed. There are days I'll have 15-20 patients on a heavy med surg unit. In the long term, I have learned how to interact with patients and experience all the good, bad, and the ugly sides of them. Healthcare is far from glamorous but it is very rewarding. Being a CNA is indeed vastly different than the role of a PA, but you will still need to learn how to interact with patients period. Don't give up on being a PA based on how you feel now.

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I haven't particularly been a CNA in a nursing home, but it is definitely tiring for me in a hospital. I've been working as a hospital CNA for about a year now. It was awful because I was working night shifts (7 pm to 7 am) while I was in my last and most challenging semester of undergrad. My back aches a lot, I have to deal with angry patients, people who are in pain, inmates, people with dementia, etc. Honestly, you name it. I have had patients who cry nonstop and even total care patients. I think what kept me going was being surrounded by other like-minded individuals or in an environment that continues to reinforce to me that being a PA is what I want to do. I started shadowing and I picked up a medical scribe position at a cardiac clinic. These experiences in particular have only fortified my want to be a PA. When I see PAs and MDs diagnosing and treating patients and teaching me different things about why they prescribe certain medications or how to recognize a certain things during a physical exam, I feel like I'm reminded of what I am doing and why I am doing it.

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I got experience as a CNA working in inpatient psych, which I did not particularly enjoy, and then took a job in an ICU. A years worth of experience in long term care would be more than enough to land you a job in a different environment. While a big part of my current position is still helping with ADLs, I'm witness to the in's and out's of critical care medicine on a daily basis. It's been an amazing learning experience and I love going to work


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It sounds like you need closure in your work.  Sometimes I feel the say way with my patients in dialysis.  In certain areas of medicine you will see the same people over and over again forever and ever (not really but it can feel that way) and you do not get closure.  Especially hard when you have to deal with patients who are abusive continuously and don't get time to recover.  This can happen in all areas in medicine, but in some you get more closure than others.  For example, an anesthesiologist I know mentioned this to me, his patients can be abusive or be the ideal patient, either way, when his work is done "bam" likely never has to see the patient again.  He loves that part of his role in medicine because he does not have to deal with abuse from the same person and allows his reservoir of patience to refill.  

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I have been working as a CNA in the Med/Surg floor for a year. I interact with behavioral health and LTC patients frequently and I find the mix of patients interesting. I would say I enjoy it 95% of the time, although something may be wrong with me. On that note, I can not imagine being a CNA for 10 years. My experience in a clinic as a registered MA was vastly different. You shouldn't let this one experience change your mind. Try to find someone to shadow and see what you think.  

By the way, there was one patient we had that was screaming for a while and I would just hum. It may not have helped her, but it made me feel so much better. They ended up letting us do ear plugs. Just trying humming all day until you find a better fit. lol.  

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I also worked med/surg neurology for over a year and felt I was becoming burned out. I transitioned to staffing where I float to different hospitals each shift and different floors, I feel like it has really given me a variety of experiences and I've really enjoyed it so far. I think bedside care is very hard at times because some patients can be emotionally taxing. Yet, I feel if I were to transition to another job such as retail or serving, I wouldn't find meaning in my work and would be annoyed with people who weren't sick and complaining. While I was hesitant that my current feelings as an discontent CNA would impact my enjoyment for medicine in the future, I realized my dissatisfaction comes from the monotonous work and boredom of "mind-numbing" routines. I've checked vitals 4,600 times a year and I'm over it, but hey, I know when BP is abnormal per person. I am looking forward to the intellectual obstacles that being a PA will bring and working in clinical primary care medicine. I volunteer at a non-profit clinic and find that I really really really enjoy working with these patients who cannot pay with anything but their gratitude. 

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