Loneliness and isolation are felt by millions of people everyday, even with the population in the United States now estimated at 335.1 million, according to the US Census Bureau. Unfortunately, feeling alone, isolated, disrespected, unappreciated, and unrecognized is felt not only in our personal lives but also in our professional lives.

One profession I am specifically reflecting on is that of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). These professionals have suffered for many years from being looked down upon, ignored, unheard, and undervalued. Despite working in the healthcare world with lots of other professionals they have always been overlooked and not considered as professionals. So, it’s no wonder CNAs have feelings of loneliness and isolation, low self-esteem, and trust issues.

Elevating the CNA Profession

The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA), the only national association for CNAs, was founded with the mission to elevate the CNA profession through education, recognition, appreciation, and bringing much needed attention to the importance of the role of CNA.

NAHCA has a well-developed educational platform to help CNAs obtain in-service hours to help them maintain certifications and also to allow them to grow their knowledge in their profession and continually learn and grow professionally. They offer monthly blogs, a newsletter, many social media sites to help keep CNAs connected, webinars, and shows such as Table for Two. In addition, NAHCA offers Pure Chat so members can talk with someone on the NAHCA staff with questions or concerns.

The one big event NAHCA does to really allow CNAs to shine is called CNA Fest. This year, 2023, was our first year back with this event since 2019 due to the pandemic. While attendance was not as high as in the past, due to a three year hold and the fact the healthcare world is in the middle of the worst staffing crisis in our history, this still did not stop CNAs from making their way to Little Rock, Ark., for a two-day revival. This was a much needed get together for these CNAs.

CNA Fest Brings Respite and Camaraderie

They were starving not only for the educational opportunities NAHCA provided with awesome speakers on amazing topics, but most of all the togetherness, the love, laughter, the ability to cry together over the tragic loss of lives of co-workers, to the ones they cared for, to friends and family.

The camaraderie between CNAs from 40 states would bring tears to anyone’s eyes. They showed their CNA spirit by winning many spirit sticks made by the Board of Directors, joining in on karaoke, canoeing, swimming in the pool, paddle boarding, a stand-up comedy show, and even more in the evenings after sessions.

The highlights of CNA Fest though was the Red Carpet Event and the Key to Quality Award Ceremony, which allowed us as their association, to highlight these dedicated CNAs and allow them to shine like the superstars they prove themselves to be every single day. These two events are also streamed live to Facebook and on YouTube.

Awards Ceremony and Red Carpet Centerpiece of Event

The very prestigious Key to Quality Award Ceremony where there are 13 categories in which CNAs were nominated and won awards such as Hospital CNA of the Year, Rookie of the Year, CNA Member of the Year, Home Health CNA of the Year, Short Stop Award and many more. This whole night is the recognition and appreciation that these CNAs crave. This makes CNAs feel like they are wanted, needed, respected, professional and they are not being overlooked and undervalued here at CNA Fest.

We all need to come together with people we have so much in common with so we can feel connected, where we respect each other for the care we give, and we appreciate each other’s dedication to the profession. This is the power of togetherness.

We would like to give a special thanks to our sponsors who helped make this event possible for so many of this nation’s dedicated CNA Careforce, who not only helped monetarily but who also showed up and supported them, showed them love and respect.

Premier Sponsor:

  • KARE

Platinum Sponsor:

  • Shiftkey

Gold Sponsor:

  • National University

Silver Sponsor:

  • EShyft
  • North Shore
  • Sunovion

Bronze Sponsor:

  • Prevail