I am an Adult Rehab CNA

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020) there are over 1.3 million Certified Nursing Assistants in the U.S. These professionals are found throughout the healthcare industry in facilities like: Skilled Nursing, Home Health, Hospitals, and Retirement Communities. 

If you are thinking of becoming a CNA and have asked yourself “what does a certified nursing assistant do?” or if you are currently a CNA who is looking to change roles – read on!

Becoming an Adult Rehab CNA

Let’s start with the basics: an Adult Rehab CNA is someone who assists the therapy team of the facility in educating patients and their families on safe practices in day-to-day care. A Certified Nursing Assistant is also vital in helping with daily care like eating, dressing, self-care, or safe transfers if the patient is immobile.

Here’s what one expert CNA in Adult Rehab has to say about why she loves her job:

The journey of becoming a CNA was incredibly personal for Britta. As a middle-schooler, she spent her weekends volunteering at a local nursing home, then applied that experience as an in-home caregiver for her grandmother after high school.

Eventually, her grandmother’s needs progressed and Britta knew she had to learn more. After becoming a state-certified nursing assistant, both women were together at the same nursing home—one working, one a resident. Seeing her grandmother each day and helping other adults was and continues to be hugely rewarding.

Since working as a staff CNA in a nursing facility and embracing adventure as a travel CNA, Britta has found her place in a perm position in Adult Rehabilitation.

A typical day in an Adult Rehab setting (day-shift) starts early. By 7:00 am the care team is already meeting in a morning huddle with nurses giving quick updates on each patient:

  • Are there any changes to be mindful of?
  • Who is being discharged?
  • Are you getting new admissions?
  1. Review your assignment: You’ll review your assignment, which on a good day will be about 10 rooms, looking at who needs to get up early and who can sleep in. Wake up times depend on physical therapy or occupational therapy schedules. The goal is to get at least half of your patients up before you go into the kitchen to help with the meal pass.
  2. Patient Care + Charting: After the breakfast trays are passed out, it’s time to get the rest of the patients ready for their day. By 10:00 or 10:30 am it’s time to chart. You’ll notate what they consumed for lunch, their vitals, and any other important information regarding their care.
  3. Clean-up: Between noon and 3:00 pm patient rooms are cleaned, wet towels collected for washing, patients are taken to the bathroom, etc.

Pros / Cons of being an Adult Rehab CNA:

Each CNA position has the good and rewarding elements, but also those that are less desirable. For Britta, “a lot of the cons will be overruled by the pros”.

The Best Parts of Being a CNA
  • A strong team: Great teams mean each member is willing to step in and help out. Beyond only having a tight CNA unit, knowing that the RNs on staff have your back and are supportive is key and can make all the difference in your day.
  • Memorable patients: The best part of being an adult rehab CNA is meeting so many patients in a short period of time. Some will touch your heart and some won’t, but that’s still part if it. Thinking back fondly, Britta can still recall the names of those who have touched her soul.
  • Having fun!: Be yourself and let your patients get to know how fun you can be. Your energy is contagious. Singing or playing music while washing gives everyone a reason to smile.
The Hard Parts of Being a CNA
  • Short staffing: More patients is hard on any team. These days, with resources stretched thin, caring for all your patients can feel like an uphill struggle.
  • Patients with Dementia or Alzheimers: Unfortunately, it’s harder to work with these patients because their memories are so unpredictable. From hour to hour we are unsure how they will react to the various care teams that see them. In particular, if they do not remember instructions from their therapy sessions, their chance of falling or hurting themselves is elevated.

Additional Advice

The role of an Adult Rehab CNA may not be for everyone. It requires balancing hard work, new challenges, unexpected patient personalities with the ongoing joy of making lives better for those that you care for.

Unsure of what her future holds, Britta knows that right now she is content in her role as an Adult Rehab CNA. Getting to pop into patient rooms to chat when their family can’t visit, playing music to energize the mood, and generally doing what she can to brighten her patients’ days is what fills her emotional and professional cup!

About the Author

Britta Roux has been a New York Certified Nurses Aide for 5 year, but a travel CNA for the past 2 years. She has a background in Skilled Nursing Facilities, Translational Care, Telemedicine, and as a Med Surg Aide. When she is not in the field, Britta enjoys spending time with her husband and family or vacationing in tropical climates.