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The other day, I found a great essay written by Mark Laughlin for the online magazine, Smile Politely. It’s obvious that Mark has a great appreciation for nursing assistants and understands their importance to our health care system. Here’s some of what Mark had to say: • Nursing assistants come in all shapes and sizes. They are both male and female. Their physical appearances are different, but they all have bodies that withstand the punishing nature of the work. • They do a lot of stuff that isn’t really in the job description. They arrange the Hallmark cards next to the bed, dial the phone for residents who can’t do it themselves and clean out the whiskers that are clogging the blades of the electric razor. • In short, nursing assistants help people who can’t completely help themselves. A nursing assistant can be the functioning arms of a quadriplegic, the eyesight of a person who is blind, the voice of someone who cannot talk. • Nursing assistants don’t just work with their patients and residents—they pretty much live with them, 40 hours a week, sometimes for decades—until the patient or resident is discharged or dies. Want to know if a resident prefers angel food or chocolate cake? What television shows they watch on Tuesday nights? How many socks they have in their bottom dresser drawer? Ask the nursing assistant. • Nursing assistants have a tough, dirty job. They are often verbally abused by the residents they take care of. This happens especially in nursing homes, where residents are often angry and no longer willing or able to be polite. • Nursing assistants have to deal with the most intimate and disgusting bodily functions of their residents—they change diapers, clean up vomit, etc. Residents do sudden and shocking things. Nursing assistants get bit—literally. That kind of stuff pushes your buttons, but a good nursing assistant deals with all of the

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