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Health Care Aids/Certified Nursing Assistants

This is where I think the US has it right. A statement that (if I'm brutally honest) you won't hear me often say when referring to American Healthcare. But that's a discussion for another time.

So what do I mean? If you read the introductory post in this category, you would know that the US equivalent to a Canadian HCA/CNA actually has a Licensed Practical Nurse's designation.

"But we already have LPNs!" Oh, I know, I'm very aware. In fact, I'm so aware of this that I'm wrapping up my own LPN program as we speak. Or more accurately - type. We'll get to that later.

I'm also aware that, unfortunately, American LPN's having the title of 'nurse' has been a hot debate. This is something that I feel is wholly unfair & disrespectful to the indispensable work done by them. They're widely employed for a reason. Without their efforts & the ability to delegate tasks to them, it would be impossible to keep up with orders, meds, charting, & the million other things required in a shift.

It's drilled into our heads from the get-go that nursing is so much more than skills, therapies, & medicine. It's the care of the actual person, the reinforcement that someone treats them as an individual rather than a diagnosis. That includes all the daily personal care. Clean clothes & bedding, freshening up, bathing, making sure that no one sits in spoiled clothing, human interaction & unbeatable compassion. All these things fall under the scope of nursing.

As a verb, 'nurse' is classified as:

  • a person who cares for the sick or infirm

  • to care for and wait on (someone, such as a sick person)

  • to attempt to cure by care and treatment

If someone tells me that HCA's don't do just that, then they really need to reflect & re-evaluate their understanding of a healthcare team.

Sure there are restrictions & I'm not saying there shouldn't be. No one should be handing out medication without having taken pharmacology. Or starting IVs & doing sterile procedures without the proper theoretical & practical training. But I genuinely agree with the US designation of classifying this role as a nurse. This is why it's included in this list, to begin with.

I was always taught that you can gauge anyone by their treatment of those they perceive to be 'lower' on the proverbial totem pole.

I'm sure there's an actual quote somewhere, but you get the gist.

I wholeheartedly believe this to be true in all aspects of life, but especially in healthcare.

For those entering a career/program with an official nurse designation: remember that each member of the care team is there for a reason. Because it just doesn't function well without them. Nursing is so far beyond just biology & medicine so treat everyone with the respect, dignity, & appreciation they deserve.

Thank your HCA's regularly & don't delegate something to them just because you can. Usually, they have twice the amount of patients & if you can do it yourself, you should try to get in the habit of doing so.

For those entering a career/program as an HCA: thank you so much for all you do. Underappreciated & overlooked but undeniably essential. Don't let anyone diminish your role no matter how many initials after their name. Some of the absolute best nurses that I've met started as HCAs.

Check out the infographic below for an overview of career information on being an HCA & head to the reference list if you would like to review the resources.

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