What’s in a name? Everything! From a very young age, we are taught to show respect to others when we are addressing them. When speaking with or responding to people, we use words such as Ma’am, Sir, Mr., Mrs., or Miss as a display of courtesy and respect.

This rule of life also applies in the professional world.  My Name is Sherry Perry, CNA.

I provide bedside care to all my patients just like thousands of other CNAs across this nation. You might ask why I added CNA after my name. Well, for one, I am very proud of my career as a 36-year CNA and that title behind my name is very important to me. Every CNA, PCT, home health aide, hospice aide, etc. — whatever their area of expertise calls them — has dedicated themselves to a life of service and devotion to every person they care for.

We Are Not Workers!

With that said, for the last several years I have been hearing a lot of government agency discussions regarding the staffing crisis, staffing ratios, and livable wages in the health care world. These are all very important issues that need to be resolved, but I am also reading and hearing people, such as CNAs, who provide bedside care referred to as direct care workers! My question is why?

This is the most degrading and disrespectful terminology to refer to thousands of us who are much more than just direct care workers. We provide intimate care that gives people dignity and quality of life while they are sick and fighting for their lives. We work long hours, overtime, give up family time, and put self care on the back burner to ensure our patients have someone there to help them.

We wear many hats during our hours of caring for people. Sometimes we are the only family they have. We are there at night so families can rest and work with peace of mind. We are their shoulder to cry on, their confidant, their advocate when they cannot speak up for themselves, and much more!

It’s Time for a Change!

People who choose this career path are dedicated carers, and they put everyone else before themselves and do so willing. So why can this type of dedication in this nation be so little appreciated that the only words to describe us as a whole are “direct care workers?” Do you think the president of the United States would take offense to being referred to as just a government worker?

It is time for a change. It’s time to start showing respect for the people who dedicate their lives to caring for the sick, frail, and elderly of our nation. The health care system is broken, and it’s not getting any closer to being fixed when every person who provides any type of bedside care continues to be labeled as direct care workers.

Instead, we want to be known as what we are – a dedicated CAREFORCE, one combining CNAs, PCTs, HHAs, hospice aides, nurses, therapists, and physicians working cohesively together as a team. Together we are a force to be reckoned with against sickness, pain, and suffering.