Long-term and post-acute care is a tough field. We all work hard, we deal with challenges and crises, we solve problems, and we care for our residents. We keep our heads down and get the job done. We like to think we’re making a difference, but sometimes we wonder if anyone notices – or cares about – what we’re doing. 

Earlier this year, I was announced as an inductee in McKnight’s Women of Distinction Hall of Honor. I don’t mention it to brag; in fact, I’m humbled by the honor. I mention it only because it has shown me that the work I am doing is getting attention, and I’m hopefully contributing to positive change. 

None of us works for the recognition, but let’s face it, it’s gratifying. Years ago, a friend told me the story of a physician colleague who was chosen to receive a prestigious national award and was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few weeks later. The award actually helped the physician find some peace. He had started to wonder if he was making a difference, if all those long hours at work and the sacrifices he made were worth it. The award was an important validation that he needed. 

You have a chance to touch the lives of CNAs and let them know that they are appreciated and making a difference. My organization, the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA), is accepting nominations for the Key to Quality Awards, which highlights exceptional caregivers from across the country. The awards will be given out during CNA Fest 2023, which takes place on July 26 and 27 in Little Rock. 

The Key to Quality Awards recognizes CNAs’ noble and humanitarian services to older adults and individuals with disabilities. As the highlight of CNA Fest, where some 500 CNAs are expected to gather for the first time since 2019, there are 12 distinctive categories that span a multitude of care settings where CNAs work.

You may know a dozen CNAs with outstanding qualities. They may be new to the field or seasoned veterans. They may work in nursing homes, or they may be in hospice, hospitals, home health or assisted living. They may be great teachers, outstanding team players, thought leaders or innovators. If you give it some thought, there are likely one or two CNAs in your life who stand out in your mind. 

We know that CNAs are amazing people. Your nomination could be the thing that keeps someone from leaving the field because they don’t think they’re appreciated or needed. You could be the reason someone keeps going when they have felt like giving up. You could be the reason someone feels great pride for the first time in a long time.

In reality, we can never say “thank you” enough for our CNAs. But these awards, and an experience at CNA Fest, are an important opportunity to show appreciation and honor those who go above and beyond every day.

Please take the time to submit a nomination. You will be making a difference in someone’s life and demonstrating that you care about the CNA careforce. Click here to view the award categories and make your nomination. The deadline to submit is June 16.

Lori Porter is co-founder and CEO of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA), a professional association of and for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in the United States. 

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.