I am currently training to be a CNA, also known as “Certified Nursing Assistant”. The program I am involved with has me taking four classes at a local technical college, one of the classes is an evening class from 5–10 PM (17:00–22:00) twice a week. I have weekly online assignments due, normally 2–3 quizzes and/or tests a week, and a lot of textbook readings to do (on top of assignments from the textbook). All of this adds up to my 75 hours of mandated training (as designated by OSHA, a government organization that helps ensure worker safety).
My boyfriend watches me study and work on school assignments. He says it is amazing what I am doing and how well I am doing. I tell him that I am thankful I have had good life circumstances in regards to education up to this point (since I got my undergraduate minor in biology and my Master’s degree in public health), because I know for a fact that I would probably crash and burn, possibly flunk out of this program because I can not imagine learning this fresh. Thankfully with my educational background and clinical floor experience as a medical transcriptionist, I have already been exposed to a lot of what I am learning before.
CNAs, sadly, only get paid on average between $8–16 per hour, depending on the person’s experience and what exact medical setting they are working in (traveling nurse, home healthcare, hospitals, hospice, etc.), and their geographical location. There have been numerous CNAs I’ve spoken to that only get paid about $1–2 above minimum wage (so around $8–9 per hour). The reality is, it’s very difficult to unionize this kind of job as well as the fact, it’s difficult to strike.
If nurses strike, patient die. Patients conditions dramatically decrease.
If retail or fast food workers want to strike, they are really only hurting their company. For someone who works in healthcare, if they decide to strike, their decision can potentially kill or severely injure patients.
CNAs have to learn how to properly move patients, or risk severe injury (to themselves or their patients). CNAs provide psychological and social stimulation for their patients, espicially for those who work in long term care facilities where the average age of the patients is sixty-five or older. CNAs duties by no means are just “learning how to wipe Grandpa’s bum”.
CNAs deserve more pay, as do many of those who work in the healthcare industry below the doctor or hospitalist position (RNs, LPNs, EMTs, etc.). Politicians who have never worked a day of their life in a healthcare setting really do not have a clear idea of what it is actually like to work on the floor. They have never had to call a “Code blue” on someone (where someone stops breathing) and had to preform CPR until more help arrives on the scene. They have never had to make a judgement call on a patient that could either greatly help the patient, or kill the patient if their judgement call was wrong. They have not had to deal with the stress of both anxious patients and patients’ families.