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From Where I Sit… Completing CNA School

Six months into my time at Personal Care, after interviewing several PCA/CNA applicants, I decided I wanted to enroll in CNA school to gain a deeper understanding of the work. I felt almost hypocritical asking questions like ‘what do you think is the most challenging part of the work’ or ‘why did you choose this profession,’ without having any caregiving experience myself. It took a little over a year for the right timing to present itself, but in April I enrolled in an after-hours program in Norcross and today I share with you that I’ve graduated my program, passed my State written test, and only have my skills test remaining before officially receiving my license.

What started as a semi-impulsive decision to enroll and learn about the challenges and rewards of caregiving turned out to be an immensely impactful and meaningful experience.

My clinicals consisted of 6 separate shifts at a nursing home which will remain unnamed. I witnessed firsthand the staffing shortages and immense pressure it places on our caregivers. On one of my shifts, there were only two CNAs to care for 140 residents, many of whom were bedbound or required total care. The conditions were challenging, and I observed things that were disheartening. However, I also had the opportunity to witness (and admire) the resiliency of the CNAs, who tirelessly cared for as many residents as possible despite the overwhelming odds.  

The experience wasn’t all gloom. One way to look at it is because they were understaffed, there was no shortage of ‘opportunities to learn!’ I am officially a pro at changing diapers and efficiently delivering snacks. I could write an entire separate article about the politics of snacks within the nursing home. If you know, you know. Jokes aside, it was the small meaningful connections I formed with residents that left an indelible mark on me.

One resident, who we’ll call “Helen,” was a Spanish-speaking woman from Venezuela. Despite my limited high-school Spanish, I was able to communicate with her, learn about her family and interests, and help brighten her day. She had a mischievous side and enjoyed attempting to embarrass me by calling me ‘novio’ or ‘novio caliente,’ much to the amusement of my wife when I shared these stories at home.

There was another resident, who we’ll call ‘Anne,’ who was non-verbal. Our first few interactions were quite awkward, involving pointing, vocal tones, and more pointing as I puzzled my way through her requests. However, over the course of a few shifts, through persistence and patience, and a little more discomfort, we found our own way of understanding each other and I was able to provide her the assistance she needed. The interactions brought both her and me joy, demonstrated by shared smiles.

Helen and Anne are just two examples of the small, but meaningful connections I made with the residents. They helped me understand why the two CNAs would continue to show up for work, determined to do their best for their 70 residents. Whenever I interview an applicant at Personal Care, I ask the question; ‘why did you enter this line of work?’ It’s an interesting question for a profession that is often underappreciated and underrecognized in contemporary society. One answer I hear on a regular basis, but continues to surprise and inspire me is ‘I have no choice; it is my calling.

While I still have much to learn and cannot claim to fully comprehend the work like someone with years of experience, caring for Helen, Anne, and the other residents on my hall has given me a glimpse into the passion and dedication that drives our caregivers. I am more thankful for each and every one of them than ever before.

I’m committed to maintaining my license by donning the Personal Care colors and working with our clients as there are openings and clients that feel comfortable with a male caregiver. It is important to me to stay connected with our work and continue growing alongside this exceptional team.

I want to express my deep appreciation for the incredible work our caregivers do. Each day, they demonstrate compassion, resilience, and a commitment to make a positive difference in the lives of our clients. Let us remember the importance of our calling and the impact we have on the individuals we care for.

With gratitude,


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