Dear Nurse Marge,
I’ve got a real issue here I’m hoping you can assist me with. Actually, it’s not just me, it’s all of the nurses on this unit who could use your help.
You see, our CNAs keep disappearing. It’s like the twilight zone…one minute they’re there, the next: Poof! They’re gone. We had two fantastic aides for our shift (I work overnights) but they were poached by another unit — and they got to work days, who can blame them? But the aides we have now? Not so fantastic.
I mean, I’m sure they’re skilled. It’s just I’ve never actually had an opportunity to see them do some work…every time I need an aide, they’re gone…on break, home early for the day, or just off on some mysterious mission only they know about. It’s crazy!
How can we keep track of our aides?
Dear Losing It,
You’ve hit upon one of the true mysteries of nursing: where do all of the missing CNA’s go? They can’t all be in the cafeteria or sneaking out for a smoke. The great aides, as you’ve pointed out, are easy to locate — they’re stolen by other units!
But where do the other ones go?
Over the years, I’ve tried to keep track of our aides through many different methods. The bell around the neck idea (stolen directly from too many Tom and Jerry cartoons) worked, although at least one aide found it patronizing…I tried repurposing a RFID chip from a recent Best Buy purchase, only to discover that you can’t actually pick that signal up on telemetry… the situation seemed hopeless.
But then cell phones became part and parcel of everyone’s attire.
And we had an in.
Now, a smart CNA is not going to answer if you’re calling from the unit phone. And chances are, if they’re diligently hiding out, they’re not going to answer if you call directly from your phone.
But should the movie star of their choosing happen to call…well, that would be a different story. It took a little doing, but I managed to secure a cell phone in the name of Johnny Depp. Now when I call the aide, the caller ID shows that Johnny Depp is calling. It’s surprising how quickly that call gets answered!
Of course, they’re disappointed that it’s not really Captain Jack Sparrow on the other end of the line — but when I’ve got a full census, patient families climbing the walls, a call light going off every 2.2 seconds, and count them, three code browns, their disappointment isn’t a big concern for me.
Perhaps you’ll feel the same way.
Take note: if you use this method to deal with disappearing CNA’s, you have a karmic obligation to make sure you let the good, stay-around-when-you-need-them CNAs know how much you appreciate them. If I’ve learned one thing in my *ahem* years on the floor, it’s the value of letting people know you value what they do — and there’s no one as valuable when you need them as a good aide.
Even if they won’t answer the cell phone when it’s you calling!