Elizabeth Hurlbutt: Second Place

Perry County Nursing Home Linden, Tennessee and Life Care Center of Centerville Centerville, Tennessee

As I settled on the couch with my popcorn, my best friend, Ashley, asked, “Have you seen this show? It’s great!” I looked at the TV where a man working knee deep in muck explored a routine day on the job. “Oh yeah, it’s interesting,” I replied.

“I bet he could film an episode where you work,” she teased with a grin. I rolled my eyes and tossed some of my snack at her, “mmm-hmm.”

“To tell the truth,” she admitted, “I was considering a job in long-term care, yet I’m a little nervous about some things.”

“I, too, had concerns at first, but now I love being a CNA.”

She asked me to tell her more. To begin, the occupation of certified nurse aide is hard work. Often, the days are long, physically demanding, and you will stay busy. The residents require different levels of assistance for a variety of needs that range from gentle reminders to total dependence for all their ADLs (activities of daily living). Occasionally, it is challenging to be a “good sport” when dealing with difficult personalities. However, the pros outweigh the cons and there is reward in knowing the significance of what you do. The relationships you build are priceless.

Being a CNA is worth the stressful times and hectic shifts. Mostly, residents in long-term care depend on others in several ways. Some tasks I perform may go unnoticed; nonetheless, they are meaningful: passing/picking up meal trays, making beds, charting, to name a few. Other things, though, such as cleaning a man’s dentures or letting a lady choose her outfit, can greatly increase confidence. The care I give promotes the resident’s overall health and well-being. When someone has Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia related conditions, or when a person must adjust to changing health conditions and increased physical limitations, I can offer comfort and encouragement. Above all, I am responsible for skin care and pressure relief to prevent bed sores. Some things are so sad, but I know that kindness and gentleness greatly improve another person’s quality of life, so I stay strong. There is a quote from Hippocrates that I heard during an inservice that sums up what I believe. He said, “It’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.”

The CNAs spend most of their time interacting with the residents. When I take good care of myself, I am an asset to all the people I work with, such as the other “techs” (CNAs), support personnel, nurses, therapists, and of course, the residents. For me, it is important to eat and sleep well since there is so much physical activity involved in personal care. In my free-time, I choose activities that are relaxing and promote a positive self-concept. Because I invest in myself, I can provide the residents the focused attention they deserve.

To best serve the residents in long-term care, I am intentional about professionalism and consideration toward others. I speak mannerly, ensure dignity, and am conscientious of the diverse lifestyles my residents have. Likewise, I protect each person’s identity, follow guidelines to promote infection control, and continue to stay up-to-date with the latest methods of quality care. It is important to respect personal boundaries and ethical practices This is not just a skilled nursing facility; it is the resident’s home. I am honored to be here, and I truly believe that the individuals I meet enrich my life. I love what I do and those that I help.

“Wow!” Ashley exclaimed, “You sound passionate.” As she continued to ask questions, it made me smile to reflect on the people that are so dear to me. I am fortunate to be a member of a brilliant team that provides outstanding service to others. From here, the experience and support that I gain while working in longterm care give me the qualifications I need for success and advancement in the medical field.