After CNA Training: What to Wear When You Work in the Psych Unit

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When you finish CNA training, you’ll have the opportunity to work in several different areas of the medical field. In most scenarios, the dress code you’ll need to follow will include scrubs and a pair of sensible nursing shoes. When you work in a psychiatric unit or facility, however, this may not necessarily be the case. Many of these facilities require or allow CNAs and nurses to wear street clothes.

This can be a confusing thing after CNA training. After all, if you can’t wear scrubs, what exactly should you wear? Some units may offer specific instructions on the dress code, and these policies should always trump anything you read online- even on this blog. If your facility doesn’t offer much advice, however, knowing what to wear after CNA training may be a little difficult. Luckily, we have a few guidelines that can help you dress appropriately after CNA training.

Dressing for Psychiatric Work After CNA Training

  • Attraction Isn’t Your Objective- Many students and even those who have completed CNA training see ‘street clothes’ as the opposite of what they should be: an excuse to cut loose. When you work in a psychiatric unit, your goal shouldn’t be to show off your body, express yourself, or appear attractive to that nurse on D Hall. Always dress conservatively.
  • Dress to Impress- If you find it hard to determine what to wear after CNA training when you work at a psychiatric facility, consider this rule of thumb: dress as you would if you were going to court or to church. This doesn’t mean wearing a skirt or dress. It simply means wearing nice slacks, blouses, or shirt. Everything should fit well, be clean, and free of wrinkles.
  • Choose Clothing Wisely- As nice as you want, need, to look, choose the clothes you wear very carefully. You may not be working in the ER or in a nursing home, but there’s a good chance your clothes could be stained or ruined by bodily fluids, dirt, and even food.
  • Keep the Sensible Shoes- Whether you’ve just finished CNA training or been a CNA for years, it shouldn’t come as a shock that sensible shoes are always a must. You need to be able to move quickly- even run at times. You also need to protect your feet from rolling carts and angry patients who might target them. For this reason, avoid open-toes, sandals, high heels, and anything with straps. Nursing shoes, tennis shoes, and sneakers are all good options.
  • Forget the Bling- Every wonder why CNAs and nurses who work in psychiatric facilities don’t wear a lot of jewelry? It’s because, after a while, they learn. Hoop earrings, dangling necklaces, piercings, and rings with large stones can be dangerous for both the patients and yourself after CNA training. Rings can scratch patients, necklaces and dangling earrings can be grabbed and even used as weapons. Keep jewelry to an absolute minimum.
  • Religious or Cultural Items- Everyone has the right to practice their beliefs, but in a psychiatric facility, you must be concerned about safety above all else. Head wraps can be snatched in seconds and used as a weapon against you after CNA training. Patients who suffer from PTSD or paranoia may react badly to CNAs who cover their faces partially or fully. Anything that is worn around the neck, such as rosaries, stoles, or shawls, can all be used to choke someone- possibly you. Talk to your religious adviser and HR department if you wear these items for religious or cultural purposes and see what modifications might be necessary to keep you and others safe after CNA training.

Working in Psych After CNA Training

Working in a psychiatric unit or facility after CNA training can be rewarding, but if you’re confused about how to dress for this job, it’s important to do some research. Always see what your facility’s policy says first. If no advice is offered, use these tips after CNA training.

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