After CNA Training: Working in a State Hospital for the Mentally Ill

cna trainingAfter CNA training, you will have many employment opportunities. Where you work will most likely depend on your personal preferences, your personal skills, and the type of CNA training you received. One place you can find employment is a state hospital for the mentally ill. Working in this environment is rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Here are a few things you should know before applying for this position.

After CNA Training: What it’s like to Work in a State Hospital

Working in a state hospital for the mentally ill is unlike any other CNA position. It is often a dangerous one, and you often need to make quick decisions to prevent harm to both yourself and the patients. Your CNA training may not have prepared you for this.

Many of the job duties of a CNA in a state hospital are similar to those in any other health care facility. You will be expected to help dress, bathe, and feed patients, all skills you learned in your CNA training. You will also be responsible for taking vital signs and keeping an eye out for any changes in mental or physical behavior.

CNA Training is generally more broad. Hear are a few of the more job specific duties you may have:

  • Entertaining patients by playing cards, watching tv, involving them in group activities and games
  • Diffusing potentially volatile situations before they escalate
  • Identifying triggering situations which could produce harmful behavior from patients
  • Restraining patients who have the potential to harm themselves or others

In this type of facility, you will also work with a number of different medical staff, like nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, and therapists. You will care for many different types of patients, not just the mentally ill. Mentally handicapped and substance abusers may also be found in state hospitals.

Did Your CNA Training Prepare You For Mentally Ill Patients?

When you first begin working at a state hospital after CNA training, you will encounter various types of patients. Depending on the ward in which you work, these two types of patients may be the most difficult to work with, but will need both your care and patience.

  • The Suicidal Patient- Patients that wish to harm themselves often receive one-on-one care from CNAs, at least until after their meds kick in and they do not feel suicidal anymore. You will most likely be expected to remove all harmful items from their rooms and limit access to certain areas, like other patient’s rooms, where objects could be used for harm. Playing cards, watching a television show, or simply talking to these patients are often used to help distract the patients from suicidal thoughts and keep them busy during the day. CNAs may be expected to stay with these patients for two or more hours at a time by themselves.
  • The Volatile Patient- These patients can be unpredictable and dangerous to other patients and staff members. Additional CNA training is usually given to CNAs who work on correctional wards and are in the path of violence more often. You may be taught how to restrain patients without harming them, how to get out of choke holds, and how to protect yourself from patient attacks.

Working in a state hospital for the mentally ill after CNA training can be challenging, but with the right CNA training, the right skills, and a little patience, you can make a difference in the lives of many individuals.

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