How Do I Get Through This? Or Should I Quit?


Hey guys, I have been reading through these CNA threads trying to find some inspiration about how I feel. I have a clinical class in about an hour and I don't want to go. See, it's not the urine or feces or vomit or any of the smells that bother me, it's the LTC environment. My mother used to work in one and I absolutely hated going to visit her there and when I was younger I really didn't know why. Now that I am doing my training I really do understand why I really really dislike being in the LTC environment. Please, I'm not trying to offend anyone I just need help getting through this. I have had some traumatic events occur in my life that has left me afraid of death and to be somewhere where the aura is "death" twists my insides to the point where I want to quit. Every single resident at the facility I am at is going to die soon. And I know what you guys are thinking, "don't look at it that way" well, I'm not an idiot--they are dying and suffering and alone and my depression is severely affected by this. I really want to quit because I can't bare to deal with the sadness that is there. At least at a hospital you have an opportunity to see most or some of your patients recover to enjoy life. Should I quit? Is there any way to overcome this? Am I alone in how I feel? Is there anyone out there that has felt this and overcome it and what did you do? Sorry so many questions. I really would love to accomplish this but I have never disliked being somewhere so much. I feel like a kid being dragged to daycare everytime I step into that place. :( I'm so disappointed in myself.


42 Posts

Desert - I'm not a CNA yet (taking my classes in March), but I would offer up some general advice. First, don't be so hard on yourself - you really may not be cut out for LTC and there's nothing wrong with that. But at the same time, consider what your plans are regarding the nursing field. I would assume you are going to experience some pain, suffering and death in most areas. If you have some issues with these things, then maybe you should consider some therapy to help you cope with your feelings. If you can work it out now, then you will be much better off in the long run. In the mean time, try not to focus so much on the big picture - just concentrate on each task you perform and doing that thing well. Maybe that will help you get through your day. Sorry to hear you are having such a rough time, hope this helps a little.

UM Review RN, ASN, RN

7 Articles; 5,163 Posts

Specializes in Utilization Management.

they are dying and suffering and alone ..... I really want to quit because I can't bare to deal with the sadness that is there. At least at a hospital you have an opportunity to see most or some of your patients recover to enjoy life. Should I quit? Is there any way to overcome this? Am I alone in how I feel? Is there anyone out there that has felt this and overcome it and what did you do?

I guess how you see it does have a lot to do with it.

I was extremely depressed over the losses of young friends and family when I started working in a charity nursing home. I was 17. I won't say how long ago it was, but I will say that it was before the nursing home industry was regulated. No state inspections. No ombudsmen. No Dept. of Elder Affairs. No AARP. One doc for all those people and most were considered too old to treat.

The sights, the smells, the sounds, were awful. So awful that I forgot about myself and tried to help make their plight a little better. With a good meal, clean linens, a drink of water, a little TLC for these poor old folks whose family and friends were gone, and had no one to really understand the sadness.

Every time I looked into those eyes, I would see my own sorrows reflected there. Then, as I got to know those folks, I began to see less tragedy and more triumph of the human spirit.

One lady used to sew quilts. In with her collection of scraps of material, thread and needles, she kept her pain pills. Occasionally she'd offer one to us when we had menstrual cramps. (It was Darvon.)

Two ladies were roommates before they came to the nursing home. One could've lived at home, but she was too loyal to leave her friend. You'd see one with her walker and the other trotting alongside wherever they went.

One patient spoke only Italian, another only German. We communicated with gestures and smiles.

(The Italian lady, bedridden for years, I later found out, was calling us the most horrid names imaginable, and it was our ignorance of the language that made her laugh.)

One lady looked so skeletal she frightened me. Yet she was one of the sweetest.

One lady was overweight and couldn't walk and was terrified of being dropped. So I really perfected my lifting skills for her. She'd light up like a Christmas tree when she saw I was working, because we had our little routine down so well.

One lady had an angry look on her face all the time. She was confused. She wore laceup boots that took forever to tie up. She always crossed her legs. If you tried to uncross them, she'd kick.

I got tired of trying to uncross her legs when I was dressing her and tried to just work around the leg-crossing vs kicking thing. Of course the inevitable happened. I got those boots on so expertly and tied the double-bow at the top so beautifully--and I had them on the wrong feet.

Towards the end of her life, her face changed. It became smoother, softer. She actually smiled a few times while I dressed her instead of trying to kick me in the head.

Annie, Gert, Pauline, Josephine, Cecilia, Anna, Esther, Elsie, Helen. Thirty-five years later and I still remember them.


74 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg.

Get through it! How many more clinicals do you have?

I knew that LTC wasn't for me. I went through my training, learning everything I could, but I never wanted to be a LTC CNA. Now that I'm certified, I'm working at a hospital, and you're right - it is a lot nicer to discharge someone because they're better, not because they've passed on.

But even that little amount of time spent in LTC helped me be a better CNA, I think. You learn how the little things matter, like calling patients by their names rather than "hon" or "sweetie." Re-orienting a person by calling them by name has saved my butt so many times! Unless there's the patient who just totally confused and calls you Jeffrey! lol

Anyway, continue on! Even if you keep a countdown in your head. Give yourself like 5 minutes before clinicals to pout "I don't wanna do this!" before you start.


100 Posts

Specializes in Wound Care , Foot Care,and Geriatrics. Has 6 years experience.

Hi There Fellow Feeler!!I also had/have the exact same challenges/issues on my practicum.I wanted to just magically teleport to being done and doing things differentl.Jjust so you know I went home and talked,cried,and was depressed most of my two month practicum mon-friday 6:45 am t0 2pm!!!I would be worried about you if it DID NOT AFFECT YOU,it shows you have empathy,compassion,are aware that there is lots of room for improvement in LTC{which I work in}.Please try to imagine the ripple affect YOU can spread in that environment...if you choose to..that by spreading YOUR light and love,humour etc can not be emphasized enough.My heart goes out to you,I will share something about how I ended up in LTC.I did alot of volunteering where one of my parents work,loved it ,went and did the course CNA and during the practicum I HATED IT,like I thought "what the I doing?"I was like Oh my god i've spent all this time and money{six months course}and I was so scared to go and DO IT,and I was positive that I did not want to do LTC,in fact I was going to go and work in a hospital/home care...anything else.All because the stuff I saw was upsetting me so bad that I was not sure I could be ok working around it.Three months later I am not crying when I get home {as much}and I get compliments from the residents every day,because I put my heart into it,do all the little extras that I can,always smile,try to improve their day.No I don;t like or agree with lots of the politics,care etc but I am on my mission of knowing that I AM making a difference and I feel great about it.Good luck to you...may i say that it is alot different on the other side of the rainbow!!Take a deep breath,remember why you are taking the course,and know that everything that you put into it will come back to you.Take care of yourself,crying and feeling it all is all part of healing and enjoying your here and now!! warm fuzzies

jb2u, ASN, RN

1 Article; 862 Posts

Specializes in ICU, ER, Hemodialysis. Has 5 years experience.

First, I would have to say that you should continue on. Second, it is a widely spread myth that nursing homes are about death. They are actually about living. People are living longer these days, but families are busy and can not keep up with taking care of an elder. I have taken care of patients that did eventually go home with a loved one. I've taken care of best friends that shared a room and played bingo together at the nursing home. Yes, death does not skip the nursing home; so, some of your patients will die and it is the fate of every one of them; however, death does not skip the hospital environment either, and I would say, it may be even harder to watch a young 19 y/o die due to not wearing a seat belt than to watch a 93 y/o pass with family at the bedside after living a long life and giving life to a new generation.

I wish you much strength on your journey. Life is not easy and death is hard to deal with no matter when it comes, but to spend the last moments of someone's life caring for that person is a great feeling. I remember working with a patient on his last day. We became close because I was able to understand him. He was coined a "difficult" resident, but he was really just a man from a different era. He was a soldier and a former police officer. He called the shots and now was "reduced" to a man in a diaper being told when to eat, bath, and "you can't get out of bed." I would listen to the stories of his wonderful life. I watched his eyes light up as he saw that I was on duty. He laughed and joked. As his last day came, I was able to comfort him. If not for me, I do not know how his last day might have been. Would the other cna's care for them as they should? Probably not. I am happy and honored that I had this connection and that I was able to care for him on his final day. Yes, it is all in how you look at it.




421 Posts

Everyone said it very well so far. I agree, nursing homes aren't just storage units for funeral homes, as one friend told me (Mary,) but they are an opportunity to let people live life to the fullest, with the limitations they have.

Listen to their stories, do something to brighten their day. They will be in that nursing home whether or not you work there, you didn't put them there. But you can make a huge difference in the time they have left. And remember that nobody knows when their time is up, no matter how healty or young they are.


443 Posts

Specializes in CNA, RN Student.

Thank you guys so much. Your posts meant so much to me you really have no idea. I got there and was terrified to go in and I did have a much better day today...I saw one of the residents I have been with actually up and about and smiling and happy today for the first time in a few weeks. That was good. I had another resident not scream obscenities at me at all when I was warned by several of the staff that he would do it for sure. I am having a hard time not becoming emotionally attached. I guess sometimes that does happen. You guys have made me feel human and I appreciate it. I hope that I can make it through this. It is really an emotional effort me but it sounds like I can make it and that it will make me stronger. Thanks so much.


39 Posts

i am a lot like you. No bodily fluids could scare me but i am terrified of death. I have been told by a few older cnas that i shouldn't be in an LTC because of it. I love my residents though. i love my job. I work with these people as if they were my best friends, and in all reality, a couple of them are. I can't help but get close. I view it this way: if you don't get close to these people, you aren't really meant for the job. You have to be able to feel for these people, understand them because there may be a time when they get confused and can't tell you what is wrong. Also, yes these people are closer to a natural death than the people we generally choose to spend time with but everyone is close to a sort of death. tomorrow anyone could get in a car accident or have complications but you still choose to get close to them. death comes for all eventually. Where i work, a lot of these people don't have a lot of visitors so i try to throw everyone a little extra attention.

good luck!

Specializes in MSN, FNP-BC. Has 8 years experience.


Have you talked to anyone about this? You mentioned depression. I would suggest talking to a therapist about this to help you reslove your issues.

(((((DesertRain))))) I too have had these same thoughts. So yes I think it is normal. I had to excuse myself from class yesterday when they were showing a video on nursing home abuse. I started bawling in the bathroom. The instructor had put the video on and left the room so she didn't know I was in the bathroom crying until she came in. All I could think about was my inlaws who are now passed on. I didn't think of them because of the abuse, one of them in the video resembled my FIL. They were never abused nor did they have to go in the nursing home, they both died in the hospital. For years we lived next door to them to provide care for them. Every single day. Both in wheelchairs, it was extremely tough on my husband. He was totally devoted to them. He would come home sometimes and just cry. He'd say, "do you have any idea what it feels like to see someone you love so much wither away in front of you and know that no matter what you did for them or how much loving care you gave them that the end result was going to be the same~death".

That day came for his mother first and we knew that his father wouldn't make it long after that, they were married 58yrs. Two months and 8 days his father who had struggled along and put his own health problems on hold gave up the fight. We know that they both went surrounded by family who loved them very much. You could be the one to make the difference Desert. Someone mentioned the ripple effect and that is so true. If you ever get a chance to see the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" I think you should. This is speaking from someone who struggles with depression too. And sometimes I can watch that movie and it puts things into perspective and truly how much each life touches another life, and another, and another. You hang in there and a nursing home might not be the place for you and that is okay too. You can make a difference in someones life anywhere you go.


421 Posts

I would be overjoyed to see my parents together for 58 years. That's a full life.

It's sad to watch your parents die, but having them that long is a blessing.

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