Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Nurse Aide Arrival

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 14, 2021

Day after day, millions of people arrive at work to begin the task of different jobs. The job of nurse aide is arguably the best job any person can have. One reason, among many, is the arrival.

Regarding most jobs, the arrival at work is routine, but for those working as nurse aides and possessing the heart of a nurse aide, the arrival is far from routine. In fact, it is fair to say that a nurse aide’s arrival can be a matter of life and death. My brother was under the care of a nurse aide at home and had a medical episode at the time the aide was scheduled to arrive. Unfortunately, the aide was late, and when she arrived, she found my brother deceased.

There are other reasons a timely arrival is important for a nurse aide. It is a demanding job, and the aides you are relieving are probably ready to go home. However, it goes far beyond that motive. Among nurse aides, the arrival is an opportunity to honor your fellow aides. The point here will focus on shift change reports. Though the job is unique, in and of itself, with the focus here being the arrival, aides can make it even more unique by setting themselves apart with the right focus.

One focus of the arrival should be a relevant report. You see, reports shouldn’t be the presentation of a case that you did your job so that my shift will be easier; good aides know that the pursuit of easy as an aide is a fool’s errand anyway. Besides, the job is about the resident, not how hard your job is. If you are a good aide, it goes without saying that you did your job, and if you didn’t, there is a good reason why and knowing the why is of no benefit to me. If you are a substandard aide, cleaning up your mess comes with the territory. Good aides know that tattling is a waste of time and smart DONs know that it is mostly the projection of your own guilt anyway. Good aides report abuse, but they don’t tattle; they suck it up and take on the day. They know they are good, and don’t need to bring others down to prove it, or for that matter, merely shine a spotlight on a poor performance that may or may not reflect someone’s overall performance anyway.  

Honor other aides by being on time and assuming the best about them; it’s a great way to start a shift. Herein is really the first point of this article; the arrival of a nurse aide makes it a unique job because of who is glad to see your arrival. Too often, way too often, aides are not happy to see the arrival of their relief because it means, after putting in a hard day, they must make a case for how easy they have made the beginning of the shift for their relief.

Hence, unfortunately, for the most part, other aides are not among the two parties that are happy to see the aide’s arrival. As an aide, pleasing other aides cannot be your focus. You won’t last long. Nevertheless, changing the culture, beginning with the purpose of the shift change report, puts the aide profession in a more honorable light and improves care. Though it should never be your goal to include aides in those who are happy to see your arrival, a little extra icing on a cake is always good.

Few job participants are greeted with appreciation upon arrival like the nurse aide. We will start with the residents of a long-term care facility. The fact is, many residents pin their hopes on having a good day, or night, by which aide is scheduled to work. Residents know if the aide wants to be there or not. Residents know if the job is just a paycheck in the mind of the aide.

Full stop: nothing is worse than being cared for by someone who is put off or inconvenienced by your needs. If you are an aide, and you want to care for people; they know it, and your arrival makes their whole day worth the living. Few jobs may boast such a daily arrival.

Furthermore, we must ask ourselves, how many falls and subsequent injuries are due to a resident trying to do something they are unable to do because they know the aide is put off by their needs.

The next ones who are glad to see your arrival, and the last subjects of this article, are the nurses. They are probably glad to see you, even if are not that great of an aide. Their job is nearly impossible without you.

Here is the key to surviving the rigors of being a nurse aide: please the nurses; it is very much mission possible. Aides eat their own and always will; you work for the nurses, not the aides. If you remember that, you will do well. If the nurses value you, the aides can bark at the moon till the cows come home, and probably will, but to no avail.

A few tips for winning over nurses. “‘Nurse’ is a noun and ‘aide’ is a verb.” One of the elements of a fake aide is the expectation that nurses should have to help the aides. Most nurses don’t even have time to go to the bathroom. If you think nurses should help you to remain humble, don’t worry, the facility administration will take care of keeping nurses humble.

Dare to change the present culture. Don’t sit down unless it is your break time, and never sit down on the hall. Down time is patrol time: that’s when you are the extended five senses of the nurse. Stay off your phone while you are on a hall. And for crying out loud, don’t text while you are assisting a resident with a meal. Just don’t do it.

Put your STNA training to use. Instead of running to the nurse with every resident complaint to start with, apply your training and then report to the nurse. For example, SOB. Is the breathing apparatus properly inserted in the nose? Is the resident elevated to the semi-fowlers position? What is the oxygen saturation that can be reported to the nurse? You just saved the nurse 15 minutes. Applying your skills throughout the shift will save the nurse hours. That will not go unnoticed by any stretch of the imagination.

Lastly, empty the med cart trash can and keep the water pitcher iced and full. However, you may want to apply these tips gradually over time lest the nurses think you are mentally unstable.

If you do your job, you can know, while you are enroute to the facility, that your arrival will make people glad. Beside the residents, the nurse will look at you, and he or she may not say it, but they are thinking, “It’s going to be a good shift.” Not a bad gig. You are making good nurses better…and happier. 

Like any difficult job, you will need to remember from time to time the objective reasons for wanting to be an aide. That will give you the staying power and the encouragement you need. You must remember why you are an aide. And if you think about it, it wasn’t because you thought it was going to be easy; no good aide ever wanted an easy job, but rather something challenging that pays the dividends of self-fulfillment.

And there are many good reasons, more than any other profession, but perhaps the best one is the positive arrival you experience on every shift.

Paul Dohse, MA-C, STNA

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