Nursing Assistants: 7 Tips For Encouraging Lifelong Learning

Nursing Assistants: 7 Tips For Encouraging Lifelong Learning

There’s no doubt about it: lifelong learning is key to both professional and personal growth. But, your nursing assistants won’t “buy into” this belief if it’s just a meaningless mission statement, stuck in a frame and hung on the wall. Instead, it needs to be a way of life at your organization.

For example, when I started my company, I created an in-house library, filled with books relating to a variety of subjects-especially (but not limited to) health care. Every employee has two hours of “library time” each week. While they are encouraged to select reading material from the company library, they are free to read whatever they like. The only “rule” is: If you come across a great idea or are inspired by something you read, please share it with your coworkers. 


What’s the result? My employees and I are always reading, reviewing and researching…on a constant quest to continue learning. Every day around our offices, you are likely to see a couple of excited employees huddled over a headline or hear someone say, “Wow…listen to what I just found out!” New ideas are valued and it makes for motivated employees who enjoy coming to work.

How are things at your workplace? Do your nursing assistants love to learn? If not, you may want to follow these 7 tips for creating a workplace atmosphere that encourages learning.

  1. Instead of a “to do” list, keep a “to learn” list. Encourage your CNAs to jot down any learning needs they have. For example, do they want to know more about diabetes, pressure sores or time management? Put those topics on the list. Would they like to learn more about quality improvement, patient rights or ethical issues? They get added to the list, too.
  2. Keep your eyes open! Suggest that your CNAs observe a coworker whom they admire. A lot can be learned by watching, especially when you observe people who are really good at what they do. Some of their excellent work habits may rub off!
  3. Practice what you learn. Knowledge by itself is great…but it takes on real value when it is applied. Share with your CNAs how you put new knowledge to work for you on the job and suggest they try the same strategy.
  4. Show others how it’s done. A great way to learn is by teaching others! Ask your aides to help train new employees. Or, each time you hold an inservice meeting, ask a different CNA to help lead the meeting.
  5. Learn in groups. If your nursing assistants complete their inservices as self-study modules, suggest that they work together in groups of two or three. They can bounce ideas off each other and, as a result, learn more than they would “going solo.”
  6. Think outside the box. If your CNAs stick to the exact same routine every day, they may go on “autopilot” and stop learning. Encourage them to switch things up a bit-as long as it doesn’t interfere with a client’s needs or rights.
  7. Make learning a priority. The motivation to keep on learning has to come from within. Show your CNAs that lifelong learning is a daily habit for you and they may decide to make it a priority in their lives, too.

By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to developing a team of motivated employees. Your CNAs will be inspired to add to their knowledge base and expand their skills. At inservice time, their excitement over the topic at hand will be infectious. And, best of all, client care will improve as your aides put their new “know how” to use.

About the Author
Linda H. Leekley BS, RN is the founder of In the Know, a company dedicated to the continuing education needs of nursing assistants. Please visit In the Know’s website at to download a FREE Inservice Topic.
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