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With hundreds of CNA skills required to be successful on the job, a certified nurse assistant is truly a jack-of-all-trades. Each skill is as valuable as the next, but rather than writing a novel outlining each individual quality, here’s a look at the top five most desirable CNA skills, according to our in-the-trenches, insider knowledge:

1. Excellent verbal and written communication. Among the many CNA skills, strong communication skills are one of the most important. CNAs must be able to communicate effectively with their client, as well as with the client’s family members, doctors, nurses, and other staff members. Clear and concise written communication is required when reporting and documenting a client’s wellbeing.

2. Astute observation skills. One of the main CNA duties is observing the client’s day-to-day physical and mental health. Since doctors and nurses can’t be around their patients all the time, CNAs must keep a keen eye on their clients and report even the slightest changes. In a live-in caregiver situation, CNAs also must be detail-oriented and have a strong sense of awareness in the client’s habitat to ensure safety.

3. Ability to follow set rules and protocol. Some CNA skills—like the ability to follow rules—are so simple and basic, but the most important. Each senior care patient has a plan of care that must be executed by the CNA. Failing to follow the set protocol established in the plan of care puts the client’s health and well-being at risk and also increases the potential for liability, especially in an emergency.

4. Time management and organizational skills. CNAs often work with limited supervision. Therefore, top-notch time management and organization are CNA skills that any employer looks for. Specifically, a successful certified nurse assistant should be able to prioritize one’s daily task, file paperwork and reports in a timely manner, and work independently and efficiently while maximizing one’s time.

5. Empathy and compassion. While often considered inherent traits, these vital qualities are an extension of interpersonal skills. When working with senior care clients, an empathetic nature and caring bedside manner are essential for completing the job. A highly skilled CNA should be able to successfully navigate delicate social situation with grace and execute proper interpersonal skills.

If you’re looking for a CNA job in your area, be sure to check all the CNA jobs available on myCNAjobs.

What CNA skills do find essential for the job? Please share!

46 Responses to “The Top 5 CNA Skills Every Caregiver Should Have”

  1. Latarchia Edwards

    The most important skill is compassion, if you have compassion you will follow all rules. And care for the patient as your on family. You have to enjoy being a cna and helping people who can’take car of themselves communication is the key

      • renee

        Very true Eduardo!! Not one of these is a skill….they are all qualities!

      • Carla

        These are skills. They are personal attributes also known as soft skills. Employers look for candidates that have hard skills (skills that are teachable) and soft skills. Soft skills can be taught but they tend to be less measurable and less tangible.

  2. pinky

    Hi I’m Eva, I been a caregiver for 9 months it is a very challenging job I like it in many different ways but I lately been feeling sad, lonely, frustrated, lack of sleep, nervous I was never like this way please help hope to hear from you soon

    • Sandra Torres

      The only way you can find the way the truth and the live is get Jesus the son of the God .the died for you because he love you in your life , you can find peace joy and he is going to take care of you and give better position on your live.

      • Janine Casillo

        Save the bible verses for those who care. Honestly, if your GOD cared, we would not have famine, disease, hunger, poverty, broken spirits and fatherless homes.
        How about saving the bullshit and getting real.

        • Glory

          hello janine, if you believe in Jesus serve and serve him in right way? you wont b dealing with all of those things. its because of Adam and Eve sins that we are dealing with all of those things but Jesus come to die for our sins, so whoever believe in him and serve him in right way? to never have all of those things anymore

        • MD

          God do care for us,we have these things not because God doesn’t care,we have these things because we are siners,because Adam and Eve sined, God sent his son to died for us so that we may live eternally, he promised a paradise and really soon it will take place. A good bible study will do good to you.

        • Inggrid

          Why are you blaming Jesus for everything that Satan did? Get real too, nini. Satan’s as real as Jesus. that’s why you need God to save you from life’s misery.

        • Number1jesus

          I suggest u to seek God for yourself I cant get mad at u but i am offended. God is real once before i didnt believe in him until i prayed and ask for him to reveal him self …
          If u knew satin is the reason for all the diseases and such not GOD

    • Teresa

      Hi Pinky! That was my Mom’s name. But caregiving is not very everyone. If it is consuming you, maybe you should consider a different career. Hope you feel better soon. God Bless you

      • Sandra

        Caregiver is a job you should have interest before you take it up. You must have affection before you can do it with comfort.

    • Camelia J Petrescu

      Hi I have been a CNA for 7y now and regarding this job I agree i feel depressed always in bad mood and sad

  3. katebe kabwe

    I learn a lot true this site. now i know about CNA skills.thanks

  4. eduardo

    Sorry but every body are wrong because these are not Skills , these are qualities for a good CNA.

    • Brandy

      These are both skill sets as well as soft skills. Have you heard of soft skills Eduardo? People that give opinions with no facts are a nuisance on these productive sites. I am a hiring manager for a nursing staffing agency and these are the skills are vital to the job functions of a CNA.

      • 1015239

        While I agree that there are soft skills, only one will allow the CNA to develop a relationship, hence it is the soft skill and also an attitude; while it can be developed is usually hard to coin. Empathy.

      • Caroline Obeya

        Heard you say you are a Hiring Manager in a Health Care Staffing company. I have a Masters in Hr and no Health Care experience. Is the job solely for people with experience in Health Care or could I do the job without a degree in the Health field.

  5. Bridgette

    I’m taking classes for a cna and hope to learn a lot on these sites to become a good cna i enjoy taking care of people

  6. 1015239

    Having reviewed the top five”skills” I conclude that there are four skills and one qualitiy; being able to emphatize and show compassion is not a skills its an attitude.
    A skill can be measured by a set standard or protocol.

  7. Mary

    The above skills are important but the fact is having the right attitude for the job and above all,letting the creator assist you in whatever you do in order to succeed.

  8. winnie

    I have been a C.NA for over 10 years. The basic and most important thing here is to understand who you are taking care of and most of all in order to be a C.NA. you have to have a heart. Just like a nurse. Its a natural calling. Don’t do this job if you are not kind and patient!

  9. Lorraine

    Hi I’m doing my certificate 2 in support care and I need to know 5 tasks a career cannot do and who is permitted to do so can anyone help please

  10. Cora

    I’m just recently a entry level CNA, we’ll unfortunately it’s not my calling due to the fact I am half the size of my residents and can’t fully move or transport them. FYI while I worked there I had help but then again I didn’t. The resident would have to wait so long to be moved every time I had a certain hall it got frustrating but besides that I’m now trying to pursue a job in being a cashier. The same skills apply to being a cashier right because I am putting in applications I don’t want to put down the wrong things. Can I get an answer or two, an opinion? Thanks in advance!

    • wm

      Verbal and written skills, especially when it comes to clinical and healthcare terminology, technical skills in order to communicate with supervisors on a daily basis and other important skills that ensures the CNA is prepared to take on the responsibility of caring for others. CNA’s in the 21st century have far more demands, compared to 20 years ago. Additionally, successful CNA’s have the ability to pursue higher credentials to becoming RN’s or higher.

  11. mack

    this is what makes a quality CNA not per-say skills. till you do it dont knock it this is right along the category everyone at my work has to go through classes teaching us how to be better cna/lpn/ RN better stewards of our Elder.

  12. wm

    Among other skills needed to be a CNA, technical skills are essential when it come the ability to use a laptop in order to communicate with supervisors in terms of daily reporting and the status of the CNA’s relationship with the patient. This is highly important when it also comes to being a home care CNA for the disabled and elderly.

  13. Tera

    I have read a few posts stating that the above are not skills. They are indeed skills. They are called soft skills. A hard skill is something like keyboarding, excel etc. A soft skill is a synonym for “people skills.” The term describes those personal attributes that indicate a high level of emotional intelligence. Some examples of soft skills are good manners, optimism, common sense, a sense of humor, empathy, adaptability and the ability to collaborate and negotiate are all important soft skills. Other soft skills include situational awareness and the ability to read a situation as it unfolds to decide upon a response that yields the best result for all involved.

  14. HEART

    AS I SPEAK I AM UPDATING A RESUME AND AS YEARS GO BY SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE ARE ADDED TO LIST ALL THE TIME. EMPLOYERS LOOK FOR SOMEONE WITH A LOVELY HEART. WE ARE CARING FOR A HUMAN NOT A MACHINE. SO THINK IT THROUGH AS U DECIDE WHAT YOUR CHOOSE OF CAREER U WANT. LOVE WHAT U DO AND GET PAID FOR IT. AND YES WITH THE LORD IN OUR HEARTS TO GUIDE AND SHOW HIS LOVE AND TENDERNESS IT SHOULD COME EASY.
    JUST THINK HOW U WOULD WANT TO BE CARED FOR IF ONE DAY U BECOME HELPLESS.
    GOD BLESS EVERYONE IN THE NURSING FIELD.
    “+”

  15. Emma

    Treat others how you want to be treated … with respect ,kind, loving, understanding, sympathize, cominize, Important things is be patient…spiritual… if you don’t have kindness in ur heart for people can’t take care themselves …. then you don’t belong in this field of wk….GodBless

  16. Polly

    Have been a cna for one year and i love what i do no matter challenges here ad there. To be able to succeed and enjoy working as a cna, kindness, patience,show love and tenderness towards the residents. God will reward you for work well done.

  17. cathy sexton

    I have study and study I took the exam 1 time ready and did not pass it. can anyone give me some tips how to. what are the most common 5 skills that are on the CNA exam

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