Cleaning patients - page 2

I am currently taking my prereqs to enter the nursing program. I am aware that my future training will include cleaning patients. My question, how do you get use to it? I really want to be a... Read More

  1. by   cna on her way
    I am a CNA now and have been for 4 years. Its not a gross job, trust me. These people are usually very appreciative to have you and that makes it worth while. I worked in the burn unit for over a year, so trust me when I tell you I have seen pretty much any gross thing you can imagine including electrical burns where the exit wounds ranged from the scrotum to the head. As well as flesh eating diseases and decubs that took over an entire hip. You will learn to deal trust me and its very rewarding. Changing a diaper will be just another chore you do and smile
  2. by   Maisie
    Quote from cna on her way
    I am a CNA now and have been for 4 years. Its not a gross job, trust me. These people are usually very appreciative to have you and that makes it worth while. I worked in the burn unit for over a year, so trust me when I tell you I have seen pretty much any gross thing you can imagine including electrical burns where the exit wounds ranged from the scrotum to the head. As well as flesh eating diseases and decubs that took over an entire hip. You will learn to deal trust me and its very rewarding. Changing a diaper will be just another chore you do and smile
    Thanks for the reponses. I will probably become a CNA next summer if I can find a hospital/nursing home that will hire me without experience. Do you think this is possible? Is a licence required?
  3. by   VgsNrs
    Here is a little advice from what I have learned throughout the Nursing program. I would NOT recommend becoming a CNA before entering nursing school, because you probably will not want anything to do with nursing when you are done. CNA's get such a large workload and why break your back before you even have to. My experiences in clincals, you ARE the CNA and RN, so you learn both roles and trust me, you get into a routine, that poop is the least of your worries. It is gross yes, but you gotta just breath through your mouth, and suck it up sometimes. I remember I would get freaked out that I have to give a full bed bath to a patient, but after a while it is nothing TRUST ME...Make sure you ask for help too during clinicals, cuz most likely everyone else in your class is experiecing the SAME things, and you do better with two people instead of yourself. Sometimes when I feel like I am just cornered in a mess with a patient, I just think that in the end, you are really providing the care that they need and I think they do appreciate that. Nursing school is like no other, and you can't explain it until you are in it. Hope this helps and good luck!!
  4. by   wonderbee
    There's a lot to what Butterflygirl says. I function as a CNA in a per diem capacity. On me it does have the effect she describes. Several of our instructors discouraged it among us students for that very reason. On the other hand, I expect I'll have an easier orientation when I graduate than someone who didn't actually work on a hospital unit.
  5. by   agent
    Quote from indigo
    Before you enter a nursing program, why don't you become a CNA (certified nursing assistant) first? CNAs perofrm much of the patient's personal care, including changing briefs and assisting with bedpans. They provide oral care, feed patients, bathe patients, soothe patients. CNA training has a clinical component, where you would provide this type of care for patients (many times in a nursing home setting). If you can get through this program and still be interested in nursing, you're definitely on the right track. You may even end up feeling, as I did, that it was the ultimate privilege to do these things for a human being, to provide for their care and comfort.

    I agree with this.
  6. by   Sadie04
    I would recommend becoming a CNA on a part time basis as you work through school. Although it is demanding and difficult work, you learn so much and it's definitely worth it.
    I agree with most of the other posters, you do get used to cleaning up messes pretty quickly! The one thing that continues to gross me out is deep suctioning a pt with a trach and performing trach care where copious amounts of sputum is involved. To me it's by far the grossest part of the job! :uhoh21:
  7. by   epg_pei
    Quote from Maisie
    I am currently taking my prereqs to enter the nursing program. I am aware that my future training will include cleaning patients. My question, how do you get use to it? I really want to be a nurse, but I have never even changed a babie's diaper. I am a forty-something woman who is changing careers from Information Technology so this is of great concern to me.
    The first diaper I ever changed was on my first day in maternity. As a group, we were practicing our first head-to-toe assessment. My little darling had a surpsrise gift for me , so my instructor said I could go ahead and change her, assuming that I knew how to do that. I went ahead and did what I thought was the right thing to do, and it was. Still funny when I think about it.
  8. by   Indy
    Mouth breathing helps, holding your breath helps, tic tacs help as well. It also helps to just dive in and do it. Someone posted in a different forum that (warning, possible incorrect quote) taking care of those who can't do for themselves is a great honor. Well, I am not totally convinced of its "honorable" status, but I prefer to think in terms of charity. If your patient is comatose, they obviously can't help what they look like, smell like, or what comes out of various orifices. Would you want your mother, grandmother, (insert whatever loved one) to be in this condition?

    If the patient is A & O (or even just awake) it doesn't hurt to talk to them and treat them as humans; making eye contact is much better than making "yucky faces" while cleaning them. I've bathed a preacher whose hands looked like pretzels from his arthritis, and that was the sole reason he couldn't care for himself; not being able to hold a washrag, toothbrush, comb, razor etc. He enjoyed his bath.

    You'll also find a number of people who need help with bedside commodes- and oh, the things that can happen with that thing. You can wind up giving a bed bath on the potty, believe it or not. I also noticed my patients give the appearance of not having modesty or having gotten used to others handling their body parts... that's a twosided issue there. On the one hand it helps you be more at ease with talking with them; on the other hand you can't assume, or act like they don't care about how much skin is showing.

    Just remember: if it makes you uncomfortable doing it, it might be making the patient a lot more uncomfortable that it has to be done by someone else.
    -Indy
  9. by   Nemhain
    Quote from Maisie
    I am currently taking my prereqs to enter the nursing program. I am aware that my future training will include cleaning patients. My question, how do you get use to it? I really want to be a nurse, but I have never even changed a babie's diaper. I am a forty-something woman who is changing careers from Information Technology so this is of great concern to me.
    You get used to it by doing it over and over and over and over. In my clinic group I was the only one who wasn't a CNA or a Mom and I had only changed three or four diapers in my life! They all had experience with cleaning up so of course it was no big deal for them. After the 10th or 11th bath I was pretty much okay. Just please keep your compassion for the patients you clean. Some of them make it clear that they would rather be doing it themselves and feel guilty about getting help. I always think: what if it were me being bathed by a stranger?
    Good luck!
  10. by   chris_at_lucas_RN
    I changed plenty of diapers before I went to nursing school--it's not the same.

    I too was concerned I'd never get over the ambivalent feelings about providing such personal care to patients. It kept me out of nursing school long after I could have gone.

    Then one day I visited a client of mine in a nursing home (I'm a psychotherapist). This lady was not much older than me, had been misdiagnosed until it was way to late with multiple myeloma. She was, by this time, unable to do anything for herself and was in constant pain despite massive doses of medications. Whiile I was visiting her it became obvious that she needed cleaning up.

    I rang for help. One single aide came. It was clear that this was not going to work--my client could not even hold up her hand, much less assist in holding her body up. So I helped to hold Sylvia while the aide worked.

    When it came time to clean up the other side, it was clear that it would be better for Sylvia if the aide held her and I cleaned, and that's exactly what I did.

    When we were done, I realized that what had overcome my (fear isn't the word, but it's what we all experience that has us going yish!) was the desire to help this woman.

    The task was effortless, and it has been effortless ever since. I've had ICU patients who had a hard time understanding how I was able to clean them up, much less why I would want a job where that's what I did (nurse extern). I explained what has become truth for me:

    It is an honor to be asked to take care of a patient, whether by that patient directly, or by the circumstances that prevent the patient from providing their own care. I talk with my patients about this--they see things in a whole different light. And when my shift is over, I thank them for letting me be a part of their care.

    Oh, as for the mouth breathing? I have never been able to do that--if I can smell it, and it smells bad, why would I want that in my mouth??? I'm more for holding my breath and using lots of soapy water and air freshener.

    I do wish we used those moistened tissues though. Much kinder to bottoms than the wash cloths that apparently cost less. (Just realized, my focus has changed from myself to my patients, right along with my increased comfort at caring for them. Might be a causal or at least correlative relationship there.)

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