I Am WMC: Amanda Conaway, C.N.A., patient companion
By Kristy Bleizeffer Jun 3, 2021
Working as a dietary aide at a local nursing home, nurses used to tell Amanda Conaway she should look into becoming a certified nursing assistant because she was so good with patients. Amanda wasn’t so sure. The CNAs she knew worked hard in a fast-paced, emotionally charged job.
Eventually, though, Amanda took the leap and earned her certification. She’s been at Banner Wyoming Medical Center for three years, working as both a CNA and a patient companion. Sometimes referred to as patient sitters, patient companions are healthcare workers who sit around the clock with a patient who needs extra help or supervision. For example, elderly patients who are unable to safely get out of bed without assistance, or patients in mental health or another crisis may require 24-hour, one-on-one supervision for their safety. Patient companions stay in patient rooms for the entirety of their shift. They assist patients with basic personal care, when getting up or walking around, and monitor changes in patient conditions.
“Some patients are really friendly or just need someone to listen to them. Some patients are really quiet and reserved and don’t talk at all,” Amanda said. “Some patients like to go for walks and wander the halls just for a change of scenery.”
Amanda floats from floor-to-floor depending on where she is needed. She likes the variety of sitting with all different types of patients and working with so many hospital departments. “I like being able to take really good care of one person, all day long,” she said.
As a patient companion, Amanda must devote her entire attention to her patient for her entire shift. People have a tendency to overlook companions in the patient experience, but they are an integral part of the bedside care team. They also have the unique perspective of caring for some patients throughout the entirety of their stay.
“Patient companions get to see some patients getting better. We may be sitting with someone in the ICU, and then a couple of days later we get to sit with them on another floor of the hospital as their care progresses,” Amanda said. “It’s nice to see how far they’ve come. Not everybody gets to see the progress patients make when they leave their unit.”
Such prolonged, sometimes personal relationships with single patients can also be challenging, but Amanda credits her team with helping through the rough patches.
“I have had really amazing managers. It is easy to talk to them and I can go into their offices to just vent if I need to vent or cry if I need to cry.”