Do Nurses Have to Clean Poop?

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One of the most frequent questions that prospective nursing students have is how much poop they will have to clean up during their careers.

Although some think that CNAs are solely in charge of cleaning patients, this is not the case because patient care is a team effort.

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Do Nurses Have to Clean Poop?

Keeping poop off a patient’s skin is important to the overall care nurses provide to patients. While it may be easy to assume you will be involved in more important matters involving life-saving care as a nurse, cleaning up poop is a major responsibility for nurses following certain career tracks.

Do All Nursing Jobs Deal with Poop Equally?

Cleaning up poop may not be a major part of classroom learning, but you will quickly find that it is a major part of your shift depending on the patient population with whom you work.

Although some patients are able to deal with their bowel habits on their own and others will not be in your facility long enough to have to worry about bowel movements, some patients will need significant amounts of help in getting to the bathroom or cleaning themselves up after a bowel movement.

Some patients may not even be aware that they have soiled their sheets and gown and will require a great deal of work each day to keep clean.

As a nurse, you will be dealing with all sorts of potentially messy bodily fluids, including blood, urine and sputum.

Although poop may be messier and smellier, try to view it in the same way to reduce your own distaste for this portion of the job.

Keeping a patient’s skin clean will reduce the chance for skin breakdown and resulting infections and discomfort.

While a certified nursing assistant often deals with some of these messier and more hands-on portions of patient care, you will still find yourself faced with cleaning up poop regularly in many nursing positions.

You may need to help turn a patient who was incontinent in bed.

Sometimes, the CNA may not be available to help you clean up your patient, and you will be on your own.

Which Positions Are Less Messy?

While dealing with poop could be a part of any nursing job, there are some positions that have less of a chance for this problem than others.

For example, clinic nurses dealing with mobile patients for short appointments will rarely if ever have to clean patients.

The operating room and PACU nurses will also probably have to deal with poop infrequently.

Nurses in management or educational positions will have less messy jobs as they deal with the business aspect of nursing.

Which Positions Are Messier?

Direct patient care on the floor gives nurses more opportunities for dealing with poop as these patients often spend several days in the hospital.

Working as a medical-surgical nurse may subject you to a great deal of regular patient cleanup.

I also know that working in the ICU gave me more interactions with poop than I would have imagined because many of the patients were sedated and unable to controls their bowels.

However, a fecal management system can help control the mess and smell of highly liquid poop, especially for incontinent patients receiving enteral nutrition.

Final Thoughts

One of the biggest surprises you may have as a nurse is how much poop you see.

However, you may not have to deal with as much of this depending on the position you accept.

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