All You Should Know About a Day in the Life of a CNA

All You Should Know About a Day in the Life of a CNA

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People might often ask you, “what does your day look like?” “Do you just take care of patients?” As a CNA, facing these questions can be monotonous and exhausting, but a day in the life of a CNA is more than what the job description says.

CNA is an entry-level job in the medical arena. You can become CNA without a college degree. This gives a wide range of career scope to build after the CNA1 level.

The job and responsibilities you will be having as a CNA are mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging. The daily life of a CNA varies greatly based on the location where you are working. As a CNA you can work in hospitals, nursing homes, adult daycares, and other locations. The type of patient care people you take care of will also vary based on where you are working.

If we look in the broader perspective, a typical day in the life of a CNA normally looks something like this.

Starting Your Day

The day for a CNA normally starts with checking in with the latest shift nurses. CNAs normally work in different shifts, so whenever a new shift is starting, CNAs receive updates from registered nurses and information regarding the last shift. This also includes information that is required to follow up for the next shifts.

Taking Care of Patients

You’re ready to start your day after you have received all of the details and accepted RN (Registered Nurse) duties for your team and everyday activities.

The morning will continue as patients start to get up. You might be assigned to specific patients. Taking care of your patients must be done in the most mannered way. According to Heather J, a certified nursing assistant and nursing assistant mentor, she does the following as she starts her day with the patients:

“We always knock on the door and tell them who we are with our name. We will also tell them what we will be doing. Always give your residents choices of when they want to dress. You simply ask them questions about how they want to get dressed for the day.”

Heather J, Benedictine Health

Check out the video to learn more about the day-to-day experience and the life of a CNA.

The daily life of CNAs

Typical CNA Responsibilities

Typical CNA Responsibilities

You know that your day as a CNA will start with taking care of patients in patient rooms, but this includes a wide range of activities. As a CNA, you will majorly be doing the following:

  • Helping to change the linens of your patients.
  • Helping patients with their movements.
  • Giving patients dress choices and helping them to dress for the day.
  • Taking patient vitals.
  • Helping with patient daily activities, including taking them out and playing games.
  • Helping them with administering medication.
  • Collecting different biological samples that are required for different clinical assessments.
  • Helping your patients with eating, grooming, and other needs.

Always Being Ready to Communicate

A major part of your daily activities includes staying in constant contact with your assigned patients’. Your work will require you to have good communication skills. Along with good communication skills, you must have compassion for people.

You will spend a lot of time with your patients and you have to be the eyes and ears of the RNs and doctors. You have to immediately report to the RNs if you find any anomalies in the patient’s behavior. A part of your job will also be to communicate with the patient’s other family members in case of an emergency or update them with the patient’s improvements.

You must be thinking, “how can CNAs repeatedly do the same things every day.” Clawson, a CNA working for seven years, describes her experience assisting patients this way:

“I do the same thing over and over just with different patients. Sometimes it is kind of boring, but just worth it.”


Although you are always looking out for patients and taking care of them, you shouldn’t forget about your health, too. As becoming head nurse or a CNA requires both physical and mental fitness, you can keep doing the following to keep you fit.

How to Stay Fit and Motivated Throughout

Find Friendship in Work Environment

An old proverb says that a good friend makes hard times better. Well, this saying becomes relevant when you are working long shifts. Continuously working with different patients can make your day dull, but with good social interaction, you can connect with different people. This will keep your work-life fun, engaging, and stress-free.

Take Small Breaks

Yes, working in hospitals and nursing homes require you to be alert round the clock. But a 15-minute break won’t do much harm. According to a study, taking small breaks actually improves mental and physical health. Try to take a walk or read a book in your break time. Or maybe just catch up with your friend.

A Little Bit of Exercise

You must be thinking, “After spending half of my standing and moving around with patients nursing assistants and RNs, why do I need to exercise?”

Yes, it is true that you move around all the time, but you are not relaxing your body rather keeping it all worked up and stressed. Give 10-minutes to do a few rounds of yoga and stretching. This can keep your body energized and filled with positive energy to keep you motivated for the day.

Eat a Healthy Diet

You take care of hundreds of people, but how much do you take of yourself? Do you eat and sleep on time?

Many will answer no. Most of the time, long hospital shifts can take up your eating time. This might result in skipping your lunch or dinner, but eating healthy is very important for doctors and nurses. Keep healthy snacks with you to munch on during your break time. To a great extent, good food can reduce the impact of stress on your body.

Wrapping up

It is rather difficult to set a defined life in a day for a CNA. The roles and responsibilities vary greatly from place to place, but the typical day just a job is filled with taking care of patients, being there when patient calls, and giving them good company.

Your career as a CNA will be full of hurdles and challenges, but the emotional reward you will get at the end of the day will be worth all the hardship. Kickstart your CNA career by practicing our free CNA practice test paper and ace your exam!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a CNA Really a Nurse?

CNAs are nursing assistants. Though they undergo training for their certifications, CNAs remain under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RNs). CNAs get their responsibilities from RNs, but their main role is to take care of patients.

Is It Better to Work in a Hospital as a CNA?

CNAs start as entry-level jobs in hospitals. They work under specialized nurses to carry out their responsibilities. The chance of learning about different medical conditions and gaining experience is heightened in hospitals. 

Can CNAs work at night?

Yes, CNAs can work during any shift. The shift depends on the organization they are working on. CNA takes the job responsibilities from RNs before the onset of their shift.

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