Even if you're a people person, working with patients as a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, is unlikely to come naturally to you. That's mostly because patients aren't often on their best behavior, so the work is typically demanding and stressful. To be an effective CNA, you must employ various strategies when interacting with patients. That is especially true regarding patients who are angry, combative, or otherwise problematic. Familiarize yourself with top strategies for working with patients now to ensure a smooth, easy transition into this line of work.
Seven Strategies for Working With Patients as a CNA
Keep these strategies in mind while working as a CNA to enjoy more pleasant interactions with patients:
- Address Their Basic Needs First - When a patient is upset or combative, it's often because one or more of their basic needs isn't being met. People sometimes don't realize why they are feeling bad, and it's often because they are hungry, thirsty, tired, or otherwise in need of some basic level of care. By addressing patients' basic needs first, you can often nip problems in the bud.
- Acknowledge Patients' Feelings - Another reason patients are difficult is because they feel overlooked and unimportant. All people want to feel wanted, and acknowledging their feelings is a great way to accomplish this. Simply sitting down and asking a patient how they are doing or what's on their mind can really work wonders.
- Set Boundaries - It's nice to establish rapport with patients, but it's also crucial to keep boundaries in place. Patients need to know that you are there to perform a job and that your interactions with them can't extend beyond that.
- Be Respectful and Professional at All Times - Patients are less likely to give you a hard time when you remain unflappable. This can be difficult when you're a new CNA, but make a concerted effort to remain professional and respectful from the moment you clock in until the moment you clock out. Patients will respect you more, and your job will be easier.
- Have a Thick Skin - Always keep in mind that you are working with patients who may be hurt, ill, infirm, or otherwise not quite themselves. When they act out, don't take it personally. It's really not about you. It can take time to develop a thicker skin, but it is one skill you'll want to hone right away.
- Be Informed - Before beginning your job in earnest, make sure you know the facility's policies regarding patients and the manner in which they should be treated. Know what your options are if you end up in a tricky situation, and know where to turn for help when you need it. With any luck, you never will.
- Stay Safe - It's easy to want to handle everything yourself, but never do so at the expense of your own personal safety. When facing a combative or aggressive patient, always call for help. This is not the time to prove that you can handle anything thrown your way. Whether you enlist the help of security or ask another CNA or nurse to lend a hand, it's far better than winding up in serious trouble due to a negative interaction with a patient.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all this information at first. Don't worry. It will come naturally to you as you start gaining more experience. In the meantime, keep these strategies in mind and use them faithfully when interacting with patients.