How to Deal with Large Patient Loads as a CNA

CNAs often work in short-staffed facilities. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by your patient load in situations like these. Learn how to cope in this post.
How to Deal with Large Patient Loads as a CNA

CNAs, or Certified Nursing Assistants, are in high demand across the country. If anything, many facilities struggle to find enough of these professionals to adequately care for patients. As a result, CNAs often face staggering patient loads, with a single CNA doing the work of two or three. If you've worked as a CNA for even a short while, this probably sounds familiar. In fact, you might be approaching burnout. It doesn't have to be that way. Hold on to your career and be a great CNA by learning how to effectively deal with large patient loads.

These tips will help you avoid burnout and, hopefully, prevent you from leaving the field entirely due to frustration:

Stay Organized

Oftentimes, CNAs feel overwhelmed because they can't find what they need when they need it. As rushed as you typically are, you may feel like there's no time to get organized. However, doing so will save you time and keep stress to a minimum. Keep your work area in order, and make sure you have what you need before checking on a patient.


At the beginning of your shift, sort your to-do list in order of importance. Tackle high-priority tasks first and leave the less pressing ones for later.

Team Up

Regardless of where you work, you're not the only employee. When a coworker needs help, provide it if you can. Later, when you are in the same situation, you should be able to call on your colleagues to lend a hand. Foster a spirit of togetherness to ensure everyone assists everyone else.

Tell Your Manager

It's one thing to deal with excessive patient loads from time to time. If it becomes an everyday occurrence, though, something has to give. Speak to your manager or supervisor about the issue. Let them know you are struggling to provide the level of care your patients need because you're stretched too thin.

Communicate Clearly

Things are accomplished more easily when you clearly communicate what you need and expect. However, don't simply bark demands at colleagues. Always be considerate. Everyone else is under the same stress. When there's a problem, explain it calmly and clearly. Make sure the person you're speaking to understands the issue at hand.

Get Patients' Families Involved

Patients' relatives and loved ones often want to help, but don't know what to do. They're often too timid to ask. Take charge by showing them small, but effective things they can do to help their loved one. In turn, they will ease your burden too.

Take Care of Yourself

All of this advice will be for naught if you aren't good to yourself. Furthermore, you can't expect to provide good care if you're not caring for yourself. Get plenty of sleep and eat healthily. Stay hydrated throughout your shift, get plenty of exercise, and try to take small breaks from the action from time to time throughout the day. When your mind is clear and you feel good, obstacles tend to be much easier to handle.

Coping with staff shortages and high patient loads are facts of life for most CNAs. By learning how to cope with these circumstances now, you'll have a lot more success in your career and will be better able to care for your patients.

Amanda Jordan
Amanda Jordan

A registered nurse with a BSN degree, skillfully simplifies complex medical topics as a healthcare writer, contributing valuable insights to a diverse audience.

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