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Workforce Management

Only One You: Recognizing Certified Nursing Assistants

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) assists an elderly patient

In honor of CNA Week, we look at the history of certified nursing assistants and how they provide invaluable support to our healthcare system.


“There is only one of you!” exclaimed Dima, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Azpira Place of Lake Zurich, an extension of Pathway to Living in Illinois. I took some time to chat with Dima and her colleague, Savannah, also a CNA, to understand what she meant by this within the context of her profession. Read on to learn more about the CNA profession and the unique role it plays in the healthcare system.

The History of the CNA Profession

The rich history of the CNA role began between 1944 and 1945, when thousands of nurse’s aides were called to assist during World War II. The Red Cross Volunteer Nurse’s Aide Corps was established as a branch of the Volunteer Special Services, and an intensive recruitment campaign enlisted nearly 212,000 volunteers. By 1945, these individuals had dedicated 42 million hours of service, making this the most successful nursing program of the Red Cross. The volunteers ranged in age from 18 to 50 and performed non-technical work to give nurses more time to attend to their professional duties. This work continues to positively impact healthcare every day. 

In the U.S., there are more than 1.4 million CNAs working in healthcare today, and this figure is projected to increase by 8% by the end of this decade (from 2020 to 2030). Some call this a conservative estimate, however, as the use of certified nursing assistants is on the rise across all care settings as labor shortages escalate. It is a profession that is unique. The conversation I had with Dima and Savannah highlights why they are proud to be CNAs as they describe the rich personal and professional rewards of this position.

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) assists an elderly patient

CNAs Wear Many Hats

  • Many of you have come to this position from other professions.
  • You provide patients, residents, and their families with emotional support.
  • You offer patients and residents hands-on care and comfort them in times of need.
  • You work hard and do much more than manual tasks!
  • You make residents feel like they are in their homes.
  • You work as a team, supporting each other and offering nurses more time for clinical care.
  • Your work is fulfilling and emotionally rewarding.
  • You are called to mentor and share your skills with others in the field.

Thank You, CNAs

It is with gratitude that we at UKG honor the work of all certified nursing assistants, including our friends at Eventide Senior Living CommunitiesHaven Health, and so many others who use UKG’s innovative technology to transform people processes and drive engagement with employees. A special thank you to Dima, Savannah, and to Victoria Walley, executive director at Azpira Place of Lake Zurich for sharing their time and stories.

Explore how UKG solutions help employees working in post-acute care and senior living facilities