by Terrisita Stewart, NAHCA Contributor

As with any profession, the way to attract job recruits and increase retention is mostly achieved through monetary value. CNAs want to be paid for all the hard work they do. CNAs should be receiving more than minimum wage since they have advanced themselves beyond the minimum. Because they have gone to school and learned the techniques and skills to become certified, they should be compensated accordingly.

Many CNAs also want to be recognized as being a part of the patient care team; It is especially important to include the nursing assistants. It is usually us that have worked with the patient the longest and know their special needs. By working with the LPN, the care plan can be more individualized for the patient.

CNAs would also like the chance for advancement, maybe not out of the range of assisting the nurse, but maybe within different levels of responsibilities. Such as Lead nursing assistant or supervision.

As far as recruitment, many of the same issues come into play as retention, pay, recognition and advancement.

Pay is the logical way to recruit Certified Nursing Assistants to a work place. Offering the minimal wage is the first step. But also offering sign-on bonuses will help draw perspective employees. There must be an understanding that the sign-on comes with at least a year commitment. Compensate them for what they provide to the care of the patient and at their skill level. There may be differing levels of pay and an incentive for the lower to gain the knowledge to be more trained so that they can be compensated accordingly.

Recognition is another way to recruit a quality Nursing Assistant. Having a monthly board acknowledging their hard work. A sign or acknowledging the “Nursing Assistant of the month” with some sort of compensation or reward. Sometimes the recognition can be as simple as being a part of the team or with some small token of appreciation.

Many CNAs are feeling like they are just working horses and that they have nothing to offer. But this is far from the truth because we work closely with the patient and have so much to offer! We are usually the first to notice when a patient is not feeling well, or when there is a change in their condition. We can be the first person to alert the RN to a problem and maybe avoid an even greater problem or tragedy.

Other ways to retain a great Nursing Assistant is to show them that they are needed, we are respected for what part they are playing in the care of the patient, to provide opportunities to learn new things, while learning new skills is always an attraction.