Monday, September 6, 2010

(Temporarily) Hanging up my Stethoscope

Nursing Assistants are held to different standards of education and certification from state to state. Where I live, one can be a Nursing Assistant Registered (which I am) with very little classroom education. All of the practical skills I've learned, from taking vitals to transferring to catheter care, have been through on-the-job training and experience. If I were to become a Nursing Assistant Certified (which is my next goal) I'll re-learn a lot of those skills in a classroom environment combined with "clinical hours" at a participating facility. 75 hours worth of education, to be exact.

In order to be employed at an Assisted Living facility as an NAR (that's me!) I have to take this shorter, simplified training that is intended to cover all the basic caregiving skills. When I got hired at my current facility, the woman who hired me told me they'd be giving me that basic caregiver training. This is pretty standard for old folks' facilities in my state.

Now that the due date for that training is approaching, the woman that hired me has taken that promise back. She told me that I must pay for the training myself, and also that the facility won't pay for any of my training time. With the cost of the course plus lost hours & wages I'd be losing a full week's pay. A fourth of my monthly budget.
Nice, huh?

I went through all the channels, talked to the Nursing Director, and to Labor and Industries. Turns out this is a legal demand for them to make.

Which leaves me with just one option: quitting.

I turn in my notice tomorrow, and by the end of September, I won't work there anymore. No more Lanie disassembling her air conditioner, no more coworkers asking God "Where's my husband? I need someone to bang!" during dinner break. No more "flight risk" posters, or shift reports about someone's "butt cheeks". Sad!

And since my other job is as a private (nonmedical) caregiver, I'll be hanging up my stethoscope until I can find a replacement job.

The bright side is that by not wasting my education budget on a caregiving course, I will keep saving up for the Nursing Assistant course I really want to take. That'll open a lot more doors for me in terms of being employable not just in Assisted Living, but also in Skilled Nursing facilities or hospitals.

But until then, I'm frustrated and angry.

Aides and Caregivers are the ones who spend the most time with our elderly. We're the ones who know their quirks and personalities, the ones who are most likely to catch symptoms and advocate for treatments before a condition gets out of hand. We work incredibly hard for very low pay. And unfortunately, the management at this facility isn't at all unusual; a lot of times they suck. Being a Nursing Assistant means having to be vigilant to ensure you're actually paid for all the time that you work, and trying to avoid being put in impossible situations by management.

When I come up with a good solution for this dynamic, I'll be sure to let you all know. Obviously, the system isn't working right for the workers or the elderly. I know my residents will miss me, and I'll be worried about some of them. There are one or two right now that seem to only cooperate in getting bathed and dental care when I am doing it. Hopefully they'll form good relationships with whoever replaces me, and not refuse cares. But I'd rather be there doing it, and I'd guess their families would rather I was too. Something needs to change, here.

I just don't know how to do it.


  1. You smartasses. Show me you read it by clicking the ads so I can save up for training faster! If you don't, I'll write a post all about what happens to scrotums as men age. And it'll be very descriptive.

  2. Based on Mr. Retherford and Mr. Brummel's interesting comments, I too read this.

  3. You know, the certification class isn't all that bad. I'm actually in one now, at a local community college and because of my already low job income, the class was almost entirely paid for by financial aid. 8 weeks, 3 nights class and 1 morning clinical each week (which still leaves me plenty of time to work)

    Hope either way you can get back to being an NA quickly, it sounds like you seriously enjoy doing it!

  4. Didn't know you got money by clicking I can finger still works. As for the aging scrotum threat, don't worry boys...just tuck it into your socks and save on band aids (and screams). :-)

  5. You're going to keep writing though, right? I like keeping up with you. Maybe you just need to move to Arkansas. No, maybe we both just need to move to Chicago. That way you can take care of Mom and we can hang out and get frustrated with her together, but still love her. It's a good rearranging time in our lives! I hope everything works out just the way you want it too, here, there, or in Chicago.

  6. Zac, that's good to know; I'd assumed that financial aid wouldn't cover the course since it's not that many credits. I'll have to go to the community college info night!

    Annie of course I'll still be writing! I'm still doing home care, I still think I'm so smart that the world needs my opinions about barrier creams, and I'll have a whole search to post about. If I find a really wonderful place maybe your parents will relocate & then I WILL take care of your Mom. I'll email you, cause I've been wondering how she is. Love you.

  7. "I'd assumed that financial aid wouldn't cover the course since it's not that many credits."

    That actually depends on the school. Where I'm at(chicago suburbs) the class is actually 7 credits, which is nearly full time in itself.