Top 10 Traits of First-Rate CNAs

Successful CNAs, or Certified Nursing Assistants, have many traits in common. Do you have what it takes for this demanding role? Learn about the top qualities of effective CNAs in this article.
Top 10 Traits of First-Rate CNAs

There is more to being a successful Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, than completing the right educational program. Effective CNAs possess specific skills that make them naturally suited for this demanding yet rewarding line of work. Before devoting time, money, and energy to pursuing this career, consider whether or not you have what it takes to stand out as a CNA.

Effective and successful CNAs possess the following qualities:


No two days are ever alike when you're a CNA. Even during the course of a single day, you will assume many different roles and take on many different tasks. Being flexible and adaptable is an absolute must.

A Caring Nature

Because they work directly with sick or disabled patients, CNAs must be compassionate and caring. This trait also ensures that you will enjoy your work rather than be stressed out by it.

A Calm Disposition

CNAs care for people who are struggling with various illnesses and disabilities. It's not unusual for patients to lash out, and CNAs must be able to respond calmly and reasonably. If you're a hot-headed person, being a CNA may not be right for you.

Emotional Stability

As a CNA, you will encounter some pretty upsetting and stressful situations. If you are easily overwhelmed by your emotions, this may not be the line of work for you.

Observational Skills

Good CNAs pay close attention to patients and can quickly see when their conditions change. These observational skills can make a massive difference in terms of the quality of care that's delivered, so it pays to possess them.

Communication Skills

Effective written and interpersonal communication skills are a must for any CNA. They must complete charts and jot notes about patients. More importantly, they spend their days interacting with patients as well as RNs, other CNAs, and other healthcare workers.

Physical Endurance

As a CNA, you will be on your feet for eight or more hours at a time. You will also have to help get patients in and out of bed and assist them with getting around. Therefore, physical endurance is crucial. If you get worn out easily, you will struggle to perform your duties properly.


CNAs come into contact with people from all walks of life. Patients are often not at their best, so it's important to have a thick skin. Even if people have different views than you or treat you poorly, you must be able to respond respectfully.

Work Ethic

Unlike many jobs, where there's a lot of "down time," working as a CNA is demanding nearly every second of the day. This is not a job for someone who lets things slide. You must be persistent and consistent to be an effective CNA.


From completing charts to observing patients, effective CNAs are incredibly detail-oriented. They notice things other healthcare workers don't simply by being right there with patients on a nearly continual basis. By being thorough with their note-taking, they make RNs' jobs easier too.

So, do you have what it takes to be an effective CNA? If you feel you possess all or most of the above qualities, you're sure to find this work rewarding and fairly easy.

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