Nurse's Brain, Part 2: How to give report to your CNA


What is a Nurse’s Brain?

A Nurse’s Brain is a term for a piece of paper, or several pieces of paper, that we use to capture really important patient information to keep us organized.

There are sections for key areas like patient history, meds, body systems status, and more.

In addition to being an important tool throughout your shift, your Nurse’s Brain will help you give a good report at the end of your shift, including to your Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

In the first video in this series, Cathy walked through her Nurse’s Brain and how to use it. This week, Cathy covers how to give a good report to your CNA.

Giving report to your CNA

Your CNA is your partner, and they are so important to help you care for your patient. They are a vital part of your team. Using what you’ve recorded on your Nurse’s Brain, you can make sure your CNA gets all the information they need when you give a report. When you give a report, think about what the CNA is responsible for, and what information they need in order to take care of the patient safely.

  • Patient name & age
  • Code status
  • Isolation precautions
  • Body systems information
    • Respiratory - Are they on oxygen?
    • Neuro - What is their level of consciousness (LOC)?
    • Cardio - Are they on telemetry?
    • Mobility - Are they independent, in need of assistance, or on bed rest?
    • GU - Are they Incontinent of urine, bowel, or both? If they are using a device, what kind?
    • GI - Do they have diet or fluid restrictions?
  • Wounds/skin issues
  • What do you need the CNA to do today? Specimen collection, bathing, ambulation, etc.

Get your free copy of Cathy's Nurse’s Brain!

Make a copy of this free resource, or you can download it as a PDF.

Get the Nurse's Brain (PDF)

Get a copy of the original Spreadsheet (Google Sheets)

To edit this Google Doc, select File -> Make a Copy. To save it to your computer, select File -> Download and choose your format.

We've provided a ONE page downloadable Nurse's Brain document. However, some nurses use ½ page or ¼ page for their patients. Feel free to download this document and use it as-is OR make a copy and modify it to meet your needs.

This Nurse's Brain is modeled on what Cathy used in a MedSurg/Tele/Stepdown unit. For Maternal Newborn, you would need something totally different. Check back for specialized Nurse's Brain documents to be added in the future.

Full Transcript: Nurse's Brain, Part 2: How to give report to your CNA

Alright! In this video we are going to talk about how to give report to your CNA. Some of you may be like, "I didn't think nurses gave report to CNAs..." Well, they should and some units do require it, including the one I used to work on.

So when I got out of nursing school, I worked on a MedSurg/Tele floor and we were expected to give reports to our CNAs. I was a little unsure about what to include in that report initially.

Over time it became clear. In this video, I'm going to share what information is important to share with your CNA. Because your CNA is an important part of your care team, they're going to be spending a lot of time with your patient, and you really need to rely on them to help keep your patient safe, and to just help improve the care of your patient.

What are some things you need to provide and report?

Obviously, you need to provide the patient's name, their age, their code status. The CNA needs to know this because if the patient were to go into cardiac arrest, you need to have the CNA know whether they should perform CPR and call a code, or if the patient has like a DNR order in place.

Also, if the patient's on isolation precautions you want to convey that, and explain which kind of precautions the patient's on.

Also, make sure the CNA knows if your patient is alert and oriented, or if they're confused.

You want to let them know if the patient is on oxygen and if they are on telemetry, so if we're tracking their heart rhythm. So that way, if your CNA goes in there to care for the patient, and sees the patient like, pulling off their oxygen tubing, they can help put that back in place. They can make sure all those electrodes are in place for telemetry. They can really be your right-hand guy or gal in helping to make sure all that stays on.

Then really importantly, you want to make sure your CNA knows about your patient's mobility. Are they independent? Can they get up and use the restroom and walk around without assistance? Or do they need assistance? Or, are they on bed rest? So this is definitely going to be important to know so that your CNA can help the patient to the bathroom and set the bed alarm when they leave the room to help keep that patient safe.

In addition, you want to give your CNA information about your patient's GU and GI system. So is the patient incontinent? if they're incontinent, are they incontinent of urine bowel or both? do they have any devices in place? Like a Foley catheter or a condom catheter or a PureWick device?

For those of you who aren't familiar with a PureWick device, we use it a lot in the hospital these days, and it's been in higher use over the last couple years. It basically looks like a giant tampon, although it doesn't go up in anything, it just rests against the perineal area and it connects through tubing to wall suction so when the patient urinates, it sucks that in through the tubing to the little canister on the wall. patients in general really like it. They like it too much, almost. I could do a whole video on that. They'd rather just have the wick in place than get up and use the restroom sometimes, which is not really what it's there for.

Other things you need to let your CNA know about, are wound and skin issues. If the patient has a wound or has some really bad skin issues, definitely give your CNA a heads up so they can be particularly careful.

Then you want to make any requests that you need from the CNA during report. If you need a urine specimen or a stool specimen, CNA can help with that. If you want your patient to get bathed that day, that would be a great request to make from your CNA in the morning so they can plan to do that when it's a little slower in the day. If you want the patient to get up and sit in a chair for meals, or be ambulated, those are things your CNA can help with. Which will really improve the quality of care for your patient.

So definitely give that report to your CNA, enlist their help, and just make sure they have all the information they need and it will make your day go a lot smoother.

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You are God sent and bless you

Thank you


Thank you Cathy, this is so helpful and thank you for sharing your brain in so many ways! Your flash cards are also super helpful to me. Thanks for all you do to help others be successful!


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