9 Ways to Handle Patient Load as a CNA

It’s hard enough having to care for one patient but when you’re on the floor with many patients that need your help it can be stressful and overwhelming. You might feel like you don’t know what to do next or where to even start; here are 9 ways you can manage and handle all of these patients and get them taken care of in a timely manner:

1. Plan Ahead

An easy way to keep yourself sane is by planning ahead! I’m sure most of us do this already, but for those who don’t here’s a tip; write out your plan of action and post it on your desk or even in a journal so you can reference whenever needed. This will help you stay organized and efficient because we know the last thing our patients want is to see us out of control, scrambling around etc., because nobody likes to feel like they’re not being taken care of properly- especially when they’re sick or injured!

2. Prioritize

Some of your patients just may need a little more attention than others. If you have two patients that need help and one will take 5 minutes and the other will take 15, start with the patient who needs the most care. If they’re on opposite ends of the room it would be smart to go to the patient needing less care first as this holds up both nurses and takes away from valuable time as staff tend to both patients at once instead of taking turns. Then when you finish helping out those individuals move onto those requiring 15 or more minutes worth of help.

4. Personalize

One way you can make the patient feel as though they are important is by personalizing their care. This means respecting their wishes and needs, even if they are different from your own or what’s most common. For example, some patients prefer powder blue, others want pastel colors etc., so always ask before giving them something new. Try asking what color makes them feel more comfortable or relaxed- whatever it may be! Another example would be to know who their “go-to” nurse is when it comes to passing meds or getting supplies they need. A patient wants to know they have a familiar face helping them out so always keep this mind!

8. Group Them

If it’s possible, try grouping patients together that you think would get along; those who like to talk or those who prefer silence for example. This helps speed up interactions and allows more time for yourself as well as other patients because you aren’t always having to leave one patient in order to help out another etc., it also makes for a more interesting experience overall!

5. Delegate

Let other nurses know what you need so they can help! You might not always know all your co-workers, especially if it’s a first day or even first week on the job so don’t be afraid to ask them for assistance with certain tasks- even if it takes longer than expected. The main thing is that everyone gets done and the patient receives care that doesn’t reflect poorly upon yourself or veteran staff members because nobody wants to work alongside someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing; this reflects poorly on the entire hospital which means less nurse jobs available!

6. Inform, Involve the Supervisor

If certain patients are taking more time than seems necessary, you can always talk to your nursing supervisor so they can give you some insight on how to approach the situation. If it’s an issue that needs addressing with the patient then let them know (they will respect this because nurses aren’t in charge of making decisions for patients) but if it pertains to yourself and you’re not sure where to go next in order to get assistance then speak up- nobody wants you feeling like you aren’t getting the help or attention needed when there is something obviously wrong (ie. patient is tossing and turning all day).

7. Take your Time

This goes for any nurse, regardless of how many patients may be involved! When you’re rushing around to take care of five different people at once, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and the quality of help you provide will start to diminish; patients can sense that- even if they don’t realize what is happening. Make sure your patient(s) always receive the best care possible because in return they’ll give you great feedback which can really boost confidence levels especially when things get hectic.

8. Have Fun With It!

At times like these people tend to take themselves too seriously (including myself but let’s face it- I’m a total nerd) & forget to have fun! If you know you can’t take anything seriously, turn it into a game or make up silly rules- whatever helps you manage the stress level. For example, if one patient is driving everyone crazy try telling yourself they are your boss/teacher etc., and do what they say without question. This will give you more time to breathe and take care of other important matters while still getting things done!

9. Keep Calm

Don’t let your emotions get in the way of how you handle patients because we all know anger leads to irrational decisions and mistakes which nobody wants especially when involving medication or even someone’s health! Basically avoid saying mean things that could be misconstrued as a way of personal attack- we all know these situations can escalate quickly which isn’t always easy to control. Try slowing down your breathing and thinking of ways you can improve the situation rather than making it worse!

Sometimes we tend to take on more work than we should; we try and fit everyone into our schedule but then find ourselves overwhelmed. Know your limits! If it’s too much, don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to other nurses or even ask for help if you’re really in over your head. It’s okay if you’re not perfect, there are no super nurses out there.