While you are taking your CNA training class, you will be taught how to perform many different skills. Some of these skills we have addressed in previous posts, like washing your hands, taking vital signs, and changing occupied beds. Another important skills, however, that you must learn how to perform is observing.
Yes, that’s right. Observing.
You are the eyes, ears, nose, and hands for the nursing staff. After CNA training, you will spend the majority of your time with patients, unlike nurses who spend much of their time behind desks filling out paperwork. Your observation skills can ensure you provide your nurses with valuable information about your patients that can help them avoid serious medical problems.
Observation Skills You Will Learn During CNA Training
There are two different types of observation skills you will learn about while you are taking CNA training: subjective and objective observations.
Objective observations are facts that can be measured. They aren’t biased and don’t depend on guesswork or statements from patients or other individuals who have completed CNA training. Each person who uses this skill will get the same result for the same observation, no matter what.
- Open wounds
- Skin conditions
- Urine output from catheters
- Vital signs
- Blood in urine
Subjective observations are much different than objective, but they are just as essential to your job. Although they are not measurable, but rather reports made by patients, subjective observations help nurses and doctors know when to assess patients and help them determine what type of intervention or treatment the patient needs. Some subjective observations can include statements like:
- I feel sick to my stomach
- I think my blood sugar is low.
- My head hurts.
You will learn during the course of your CNA training that subjective observations should be reported to your charge nurse exactly as they were reported to you. Do not include your own opinions, embellishments, or assumptions. If you do, you could alter the type of treatment the patient receives.
Subjective observations can also include the sights, sounds, and smells you observe in your patients after CNA training. For instance, you could observe Mrs. Jones having a bowel movement that smelled foul. While you might assume she has C Diff because of the smell of the bowel movement, you cannot know this for sure, so you should report only that the bowel movement smelled foul.
How We Observe After CNA Training
With our Eyes:
- Blood in urine
- Broken skin, cuts, bruises, and open wounds
- Changes in the way your patients eat, walk, and speak
With our Hands:
- Temperature of the skin
- Lumps or bumps on or under a patient’s skin
With our Ears:
- Respiration problems, like coughing and wheezing
- Blood pressure
- Statements from patients
With our Noses:
- Foreign odors
- Body odors
During CNA training, make sure you take the time to learn how to accurately report your observations, whether they are subjective or objective. Make sure to report them in a timely manner, without embellishments, after CNA training.