Examining Certified Nursing Assistants’ Perceptions of Work-Related Identity

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The purpose of this study was to examine certified nursing assistants’ (CNAs’) perceptions of their work identity within the context of their relationships with nursing facility residents and residents’ family members. Such information can help clarify CNAs’ roles and respond to their job needs. Although CNAs provide valuable care for residents, they often experience low status at work; it is important that they have opportunities to find value in their work.


Eight focus groups were conducted with 45 CNAs from 4 nursing facilities. Thematic analysis and role theory were used to analyze the data.


Participants identified with the roles of connector, advocate, overloaded worker, and companion.


CNAs expressed a lack of work-related control in the advocate and overloaded worker roles, and satisfaction in the companion role. Adequate organizational resources can help CNAs gain more satisfaction and effectiveness in their work.

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