Basic Skills Needed to Become a CNA

To be a successful CNA, you will need a variety of basic skills including compassion, empathy, communication skills, organizational skills and patience.
Basic Skills Needed to Become a CNA

While there are many skills needed to become a nurse aide, perhaps the most important skills necessary for the profession are the basic skills described below.

Compassion and Empathy

As a CNA, you will be working with patients who may be experiencing a variety of emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, and depression. Additionally, many of your patients may be experiencing varying degrees of pain. As such, you will need to possess a great deal of compassion and empathy.

As you may not be able to completely understand everything that your patients will be going through, you will need to do your best to at least appear compassionate and empathetic, and that is a skill in itself. Try picturing yourself as the patient, and ask yourself what you would want a nurse aide to do for you. Sometimes, just a listening ear is all a patient needs to help him or her cope.

Communication Skills and Teamwork

Other skills that are necessary for becoming a successful CNA are excellent communication and teamwork. You must be able to communicate with a variety of patients, including those who are very young and those who are elderly. You should also be able to take directions from such superiors as LPNs, RNs, technicians, and doctors.

It is important that you follow directions and rules as set by your supervisor. Every patient has a unique care plan that must be followed by the medical team, which includes CNAs, the nursing staff, technicians, and doctors. Straying away from a patient's care plan can place that patient at serious risk, especially in emergency situations.

Observational and Organizational Skills

In many cases, CNAs are the first persons who may notice changes in patients' behaviors and physical conditions. Because of this, to be a successful nurse aide, you need to have keen observational skills. Furthermore, it is essential that you immediately report any of these types of changes to your supervisor.

Since nurse aides are responsible for a broad range of tasks, if you wish to become a CNA, you need to have expert organizational skills. It is best if you know how to multi-task as well. You will need to learn how to prioritize your duties and take care of the most important ones first.

Patience and Stamina

As stated above, patients often experience various types of emotions and varying degrees of pain. With that said, as a CNA, you will need to have patience when interacting with them. Many patients may need help with their daily activities, and you must not only assist them, but also help them maintain a level of pride.

At times, the work of a nurse aide requires heavy lifting. What this means is that you will need to be in good health and top physical condition. You must also be prepared to spend the majority of your day on your feet. It is often said that CNAs are the backbones of medical teams.


To be a successful CNA, you will need a variety of basic skills including compassion, empathy, communication skills, organizational skills and patience.

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