Top CNA Skills for Your Resume and Cover Letter

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Written by Ayana Dunn, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Nursing professional adds top CNA skills to their resume.

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are vital to healthcare. They help patients with daily living activities and collect health information such as vital signs and patient urine output. Being a CNA is both challenging and impactful — without CNAs, nurses wouldn’t have time to complete the tasks specific to their role.

This profession is expected to grow by 5% over the next decade, which is about as fast as the average growth for all occupations. As with other healthcare jobs, this career is in demand.

When you’re applying to jobs, it’s important to have a clear idea about which CNA resume skills to highlight. Below, we describe the importance of each task and provide examples of how you can incorporate these CNA skills into your resume and cover letter.

1. Transferring Patients

Injured and elderly patients need to complete activities of daily living (ADLs) to maintain their quality of life and prevent further deterioration. It’s important for CNAs to help transfer patients safely and avoid falls during these activities. Your resume and cover letter should describe different lifts with which you have experience — such as the Hoyer or sit-to-stand lifts — and other techniques you use to ensure safety during transfers.

2. Bathing Patients

The importance of bathing is far more than feeling refreshed —hygiene is an important aspect of health. You could describe your experience with partial and full body baths, your mindfulness of skin tears, and your knowledge of which medical devices cannot be submerged.

3. Perineal Care

Proper perineal care, especially for female patients, is necessary to avoid UTIs and vaginal infections. Describe your ability to educate regarding perineal hygiene, and how you assess for skin breakdown and fungal infections.

4. Oral Care

Oral care is one of the most important CNA skills because, without it, patients are more likely to face a decline in their ability to eat and be more prone to a variety of ailments. Include your experience with cleaning dentures, checking for sores, and providing input if a patient’s ability to chew and swallow is impacted by their oral health (or lack thereof).

5. Safely Feeding Patients

CNAs must recognize when it’s safe to feed patients, and if their diet is the right match for their ability. They also observe for signs of aspiration — the inhalation of food or beverages — and must assist patients if this occurs. Explain how you monitor and document your patients’ consumption, ensure their prescribed diets are upheld, and encourage them to eat when need be.

6. Vital Signs

Obtaining vital signs is among the most foundational CNA skills. In some facilities, CNAs are responsible for getting daily vital signs and communicating them to the RN. This data is necessary to monitor your patients’ overall health and could be a key part of catching the beginnings of an ailment before it worsens. You can mention the vitals you’re routinely responsible for, how you use therapeutic communication with difficult patients, and your process for documenting and communicating these findings.

7. Hand Washing

As nursing professionals, we’ve been told about the importance of hand washing over and over again — and for good reason. Hand hygiene can stop the spread of various diseases. When you prioritize hand washing, you gain peace of mind knowing you didn’t contribute to a patient’s illness from working with unclean hands. In your resume and/or cover letter, mention how you thoroughly wash your hands after dealing with body fluids, as well as before and after feeding patients. It’s also good to mention sanitizing your hands between patients and whenever else you deem it necessary.

8. Range of Motion Exercises

Many elderly patients need range of motion (ROM) exercises to maintain mobility. CNAs, along with other members of the healthcare team, must strike the balance between helping patients complete these exercises effectively and not accidentally injuring them in the process. Be sure to discuss different ROM routines you’ve done in the past. You can also share the types of injuries and ailments that you’ve addressed with these exercises.

9. Nail Trimming

Like bathing, nail trimming is about more than aesthetics. It’s one of the underrated CNA skills, but it’s far more important than you think. Nails harbor bacteria that could lead to infections from something as insignificant as a scratch. Trimming them regularly without harming the patient goes a long way in implementing preventative care. Consider highlighting how you perform this task with gentleness and care.

10. Communication and Documentation

Prompt communication and accurate documentation are integral to ensuring patient needs are met in a timely manner. List the electronic medical record (EMR) and hand-off report systems with which you have experience, and explain how you communicate pertinent information to the healthcare team.

Are You Confident in Your CNA Skills?

You’ve got this! Make your capability shine through your CNA resume skills by highlighting your experience. Then, you’ll be more than ready to find a CNA job on IntelyCare and gain the flexible schedule you deserve.