While working as a certified nursing assistant provides a look into the human condition, sometimes this look isn’t a pleasant one. Although working alongside ill and recovering patients has its own challenges, when faced with a disgruntled patient you must approach the situation with extreme caution. Review your employers policy regarding disorderly patients; however, the following guidelines are universally accepted.
Identifying Problem Behaviors
Before reporting any negative activity on your report, take a moment to look at the situation objectively. While it’s common to become emotionally involved with patients, especially those with behavioral problems, only move forward if the behavior has one or all of the following three elements:
Disruptiveness to Others – Identifying and classifying behavior as disruptive must be carefully reviewed to prevent your own personal feelings getting tangled with the legal decision to file a report. Examples of truly disruptive behavior is a patient who constantly yells, screams and throws profanities as other patients and nursing staff. Other examples include repeating the same word or words or physically resisting CNAs, nurses and physicians.
High-Risk Behavior – Of course, behavior that puts others at a higher risk of injury physically or by spreading an infectious disease must be controlled immediately; however, other forms of high-risk behavior involve scenarios where the actual patient may hurt himself. Examples of this behavior type include hitting, biting, throwing objects, ignoring safety regulations and engaging in behavior that might cause self harm.
Forbidden Behavior – Patients who fall into this category typically engage in behavior that is against the law or disturbing to other patients and medical staff. Patients who steal, expose themselves or urinate in inappropriate places are all examples of this type of behavior.
Considering Behavioral Problems
While some patients may be acting out as a way to resist their treatment, some may engage in such activities due to an underlining mental illness. In the case of the latter, it’s essential to refer to your employer’s policies for dealing with mentally unstable individuals. Although behavior may be considered high-risk, reporting such behavior must be done through different channels for mentally ill patients.
When In Doubt
Whenever dealing with a difficult patient, never feel out of place approaching your charge nurse or supervisor regarding the patient. When in doubt regarding your ability to care for the patient, always reach out for consultation. Not doing so may lead to legal implications, such as a negligence lawsuit. While working as a certified nursing assistant provides a host of pleasures and benefits, you must become steadfast in dealing with the less-glamorous side of health care.
The ability to express yourself verbally and non-verbally is an essential skill for any healthcare professional. This truth carries additional weight for certified nursing assistants. While registered nurses and physicians must closely interact with patients and other medical team members, few engage with patients on such an intimate level as CNAs. Because of this, aspiring certified nursing assistants must strive to master several essential interpersonal communication skills to ensure patients are kept happy and co-workers are continually informed and treated with respect.
Essential Interpersonal Communication Skills
(1) Empathy – As a certified nursing assistant, you must interact with patients not in a sympathetic manner, but rather with empathy. From the patient’s point of view, sympathy means you feel sorry for them. While this may be true, empathy shows you’re willingness to meet them in their current state with full respect and understanding.
(2) Conflict Resolution – This skill set is valuable when dealing with patients and with other medical staff. As a certified nursing assistant, you’ll encounter a myriad of scenarios where you must quickly bring resolution to a current or rising conflict. With high emotions from patients and nursing staff, strong conflict resolution skills may prevent a host of negative circumstances.
(3) Assertiveness – Although certified nursing assistants must be compassionate and caring, they must simultaneously contain a strong assertive attitude. When dealing with patients, assertiveness is essential to swiftly negotiate when they’re being difficult. With co-workers, assertiveness demonstrates your confidence in your training and ability; however, you must simultaneously establish flexibility and compromise to prevent being stubborn and unwavering.
(4) Anger Management – When dealing with difficult patients or co-workers, it’s easy to become angry; especially toward the end of a 12-hour shift. In order to succeed in this position, you must learn how to manage and navigate your anger. While silencing your anger will do nothing but add fuel to the fire, discovering constructive avenues where your anger may be released is essential.
(5) Problem Solving – This may be one of the most important interpersonal skills a certified nursing assistant may obtain. As your problem solving skills increase, so does your value within a medical team. In the unknown world of patient care, you must be able to quickly solve problems without causing further harm or injury. When part of a medical team, those with strong problem solving skills are among the most desirable to work with. Therefore, increasing this interpersonal skill may increase job security even your salary.