Just as we joke that nurses are the eyes, ears, hands, feets of the physicians, well not entirely a joke sometimes, we have to also give credit to nursing assistants; CNAs, PCAs, techs... however it is titled in your facility. Working with a good PCA can make your day as a nurse a hell of a lot easier.
Although every single facility I have worked in nurses and PCAs had some sort of misunderstanding, but when a sense of teamwork is input into the unit, both nurses and PCAs can live in harmony. I worked as a PCA for many years before becoming a nurse, so I can speak for them as well, their job requires way more manual labor than a nurse's, on the other hand, nurses are not just sitting around doing nothing.
To have a healthy work relationship amongst nurses and techs we must learn each other's job requirements, and how we can join halfway to provide the care necessary for patient. Whenever delegating to the PCA working with you, it is best to instruct on the "why" that needs to be done, and not make it seem as you're just giving them more to do because you're lazy. For example, if you work in a telemetry unit, and receive many CHF admissions, educate the PCA on the importance of documenting proper intake and output, and the reasons we need daily weight, etc.
Whenever working with a PCA, I attempt to have them become as involved as possible in the patients care involving disease process and treatment. When I was a PCA that approach was taken with me, and it was greatly appreciated. It is not about dumping tasks on anyone, but joining together to complete all of them. Whenever a patient is hypertensive, explain the reason you need a recheck after medications are given, educate don't dictate.
Nursing assistants are indispensable in the healthcare field, and nurses cannot go through the day without the help of the PCA, and vice versa. When I was a PCA, I always felt that being a PCA was often a grueling, thankless, physically difficult, on top of being a low-paying job, but it was the nurses I worked with that made all the difference in the world. I highly respect nursing assistants, and I thank the nurses and PCAs who taught me along the years.
The Dude Nurse
Klaus Campos, BSN-RN