Paycheck to Paycheck

As children, limits didn’t exist, and superheroes and princesses were real. As we grew up, we learned that life is more than just difficult at times, it can feel impossible. For single mothers, saying life is hard is an understatement. The documentary, Paycheck to Paycheck The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert, covers just how hard being a single mother can be working minimum wage as a CNA.

Alis volat propriis, “She flies with my own wings” I don’t need anyone else to hold me up.”

Katrina is a single mother of three children ages 3, 5, and 7 working as a CNA. After years of being together and two years after their first child, Kristina left her husband after discovering his hidden addiction to painkillers. 

She had goals and was ambitious when she was young. She wanted a house by 28 and to finish school, but fast forward, and she feels she has nothing to show for those years with him except for her children. 

If you’ve been working in healthcare, you know that a CNA’s job is the backbone of the nursing field. However, most commonly, Certified Nursing Assistants make no more than minimum wage. At the time of the documentary, Kristina made $9.49/Hour and supported her children on her own, since her husband was unemployed and unable to pay child support. 

Bills are due, and her paycheck was gone before she spent it due to bills piling up, and some payments she had to do partially because she couldn’t afford to make them in full on time.

Living out of a trailer and sending her kids to a daycare provides single, working mothers a discount. At the full rate, she would have to pay $300/week, which wouldn’t make it worth it to go to work. Thankfully, she was able to find resources to help compensate, including this discount and food stamps. 

Is this how our Nursing Assistants should be treated? Are all Nursing Assistants paid this low? We dive into the opportunities for CNA’s to increase their wage or find side hustles to help with additional income.


“CNAs who work in hospitals have the highest average pay, at $14.73 hourly. Specialized CNAs in this setting can earn substantially more. The highest-paid specialties for CNAs include the ICU, Operating Room, Telemetry, Emergency Room, and Medicine and Surgery.” — uniontestprep.com/cna/blog/which-cna-jobs-pay-the-most

Working as a CNA currently and still looking for more but don’t have time for additional schooling, have moved up as far as you can within your current establishment, and don’t have the funds for school? There are a few options. 

Maybe you have considered going back to school but just don’t have the time? We’ve compiled a list on how to advance your medical career without schooling. 

Additionally, If you are currently working in the medical field, you may have the opportunity to have your student loans forgiven. New Bill Could Forgive Student Loans for Healthcare Workers on COVID-19 Frontlines

Are you currently a single mother? Have you been stuck in the same role for years making minimum wage and getting salary increases less than $1? Did you find a way to make more money or find a side-hustle for additional income? Let us know in the comments below. 

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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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