AAPACN is dedicated to supporting post-acute care nurses provide quality care.

Have You Recognized This Key Member of the Care Team?

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are important members of the long-term care team. However, sometimes they aren’t appreciated or recognized enough for the work that they do. This blog will discuss the impact of CNAs and how their role is crucial as the work alongside nurses, as well as some ways to show appreciation to CNAs during National Nursing Assistants Week, June 13 – 19, 2024.

The impact of CNAs

Direct line of resident care and trust

Of all the care team members, CNAs spend the most time with residents in a nursing home. They provide direct resident care and work physically harder than probably anyone else in the building. But the CNA’s work isn’t just physical labor, it’s psychosocial and spiritual support for the residents as well. For example, while providing physical care, the resident might open up to the CNA about their life history. These interactions and the impressions they make can directly impact how residents and families feel about the care provided and how much they trust the facility.

Key role in documentation and observation

In addition, because of their closeness to the residents, CNAs are often the first to observe changes in a resident’s condition, especially very slight changes that might go unnoticed by other members of the care team. Their essential role in notifying the nurse when they observe these changes and ensuring the documentation captures these changes is pivotal for the resident’s health, accurate assessments, and care plan adjustments.

The CNA/nurse relationship

The CNA role complements the nurse role as they work together toward a shared goal of the best quality of care and life for residents. A critical partnership, the CNA helps to relieve the workload of the nurse and provides him or her with key information, such as vital signs.

Registered nurses often have a supervisory role over CNAs. In this role, to encourage a positive relationship, nurses should tell CNAs what feedback they find most beneficial. If suggestions on resident care and additional perspectives are helpful, communicate that to the CNAs.

Also, it’s important to create an environment where CNAs feel comfortable speaking to the nurse about an issue, whether it’s with a resident or another staff member. When the nurse cultivates open communication and allows the CNA autonomy and ownership within their scope of practice to suggest ideas and improvements, it can improve care for the resident and job satisfaction for the CNA.

How to show appreciation for the CNA role

Helping when possible

Nurses can show appreciation for the CNAs they work with by helping them where they can. Sometimes something as simple as answering a call light when the nurse is nearby rather than just waiting for a CNA to do it and then have the CNA call for the nurse anyway can save the CNA time and make their work a little easier.

Saying and showing thanks

For the DNS or the nurse to take time out of their busy day to provide a CNA with an encouraging comment or compliment, a thank you, or even a written note can go a long way to help a CNA know they are seen in their role. When passing by a CNA, the DNS or nurse can say something like, “[Name], I know you have been working so hard. Thank you for all you do!” Or, write the CNA a note about something they helped with lately. Make sure it is personal and specific.


Staff who are appreciated work hard. And no one works harder than the CNA. AAPACN supports the CNA role as a vital member of the care team. We hope that all facilities will show their appreciation for their CNAs during National Nursing Assistants Week, and also regularly throughout the year.

Note: AAPACN offers in-service education specifically for nurses and nursing assistants here. Learn more about membership to access these expert-developed training resources for your team.