How do you deal with attachment?

Nursing Students CNA/MA


Specializes in LTC.

This has been one busy week for me; I just finished up clinicals on Tuesday, passed my CNA course with an A on Wednesday, and took the state exam -- which I'm confident I did well on -- this morning. I have tentative plans to take a CMA course in January, and am strongly leaning towards applying at the facility where I did my clinicals.

The facility where I did my clinicals has high turnover and always seems to be hiring; two of my classmates applied there and were already offered the job within 48 hours of applying. Unfortunately a lot of the CNAs there are chronically absent and negligent of the residents, which explains the turnover, and I'd like to be a part of the solution. The facility is also body modification friendly, which is a major plus for me (although I did have a curious resident abruptly reach for my shiny nose stud, which made me think twice about continuing to wear it after clinicals).

However, I worry not just about working in this particular facility, but working as a CNA in general, because I ended up getting really attached to my residents during clinicals. I managed to keep my composure on my last shift, but cried when I got in my car. Realizing that I could never see them again (unless I applied to work at that facility) devastated me, which brought me to the greater realization that as a CNA I will no longer have the freedom to change jobs on a whim, because it's going to wreck me every time.

It's kind of ironic, because I came into this line of work convinced that attachment would not be an issue for me, I'm not a people person, I'm just there to do my job, etc.

Anyone else have attachment problems? How do you deal?

After several years of this job, I still get attached to my residents. Not the rehabbers, but the long-term ones. The ones you work with 40 hours a week for months or years. Despite what management tells us, I think it's a positive attribute. If I wasn't attached to my residents, there's no way I would ever be able to push myself to go to work.

It's great to be attached to the long-term ones, but if you get attached to all of the rehabbers, you will be upset pretty often because of their frequent discharges. And in regards to your "long-timers," being upset for a day or two is one thing, but being upset (or in your words, "devastated") for weeks is quite another.

There seems to be 2 types of "attachments." There are some residents where everyone is sad that they passed, but an hour or 2 later everything is back to "business as usual." Then there are the ones where EVERYBODY in the facility is saying goodbye to them, crying, and the mood is pretty somber for a few days. Most residents are the former, but you usually have a special few who are the latter.

I had one of my "special" residents pass about 2 months ago. Took care of him for a LONG time. I was the only staff member whose name he could remember. He was just like my grandpa, or even a friend. I was so attached that after my shift I seriously considered quitting because I didn't think that I could possibly work there anymore. Of course, I didn't, I have moved on since then, but I still remember him often. Whether these sorts of attachments are healthy or not is debatable. I go through this about once a year, where someone I'm really attached to dies and it feels like a family member dying, and I consider leaving the field for good. But then I remind myself I feel this way every time and keep going on. This job would NOT be worth it if we just took care of people like robots and checked all of our emotions at the door.

I'm not usually as attached to the rehabbers. I may "miss" them for a few days, but most of the time I'm glad to see them well enough to go home (as opposed to deteriorating to the point that they have to stay indefinitely).

Specializes in Geriatric.

Getting attached has it's good parts and bad. Some of the residents I am super attached to are the ones that make my day bright. The cute, sweet or funny things they say, when they call you sweetheart and ask for a hug, etc....

But when something happens to a resident who is so special to you, it can be very, very tough. I remember one that I was extremely attached to who was taken away to the ER several hours before my shift, and when the nurse told me, I was so panicked that I stumbled back and one of my coworkers who (luckily) was behind me grabbed onto me and gave me a hug. I had to walk outside for a couple minutes and then come back in to work.

Specializes in LTC.

It's easier not to get attached after the first time you get burned. I still have residents that I love, but I feel like I don't have the emotional energy anymore, so I always try to keep my attachments in check.

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