What’s my scope of practice?

Darrin Klimek | Digital Vision | Thinkstock

Most of our instructors and faculty members have encouraged us to get jobs as nursing assistants while it school, and for good reason. It’s an amazing experience, and the confidence it helps you build is invaluable. But there are a few that have warned against it, saying that it’s good experience, but it can start to mess with your head when it comes to studying for and taking the NCLEX. I took these warnings with a grain of salt.

I’m starting to get it now. I just finished my “leadership and management” lecture and finally started understanding what they meant. Questions about scope of practice plagued the NCLEX practice exams, and while I know that we follow our scope of practice at work, what we practice, and what the text book says we practice is not always the same. According to our text, CNAs/UAPs are not allowed to recheck a BP that is too high or too low, because that involves an assessment of the BP. We’re also not allowed to prioritize who gets served lunch first, because (according to the book) UAPs aren’t allowed to prioritize …anything!

Now, I don’t know about all you other CNAs out there, but when I take a blood pressure and it’s too high or too low, I recheck it to make sure that it was a true reading, then I tell the nurse, and re-check it when they want me to.  And when it’s time to order breakfast and make sure it gets to each patient, I can competently take a look at who’s got what going on and decide if it’s a good time for them to eat. I mean, really.  But what I do at work or in clinical is not always what’s on the test. So while I would never ever trade the experience I am getting at my work, I guess I need to bust out the NCLEX book a bit more and brush up on what the text book says I can and can’t do at work.

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