CNA Skills Set: Patient Positions

CNA Skills Set: Patient Positions


In the next section of our CNA Skill Set Test Study Guide, we will be covering the different positions that a patient should be placed in.

Although it is very rare for your specific skill set to place someone in one of these positions, many procedures require a patient to be placed into a specific position so as to give you the best access or mobility for that action.

Furthermore, it isn’t uncommon for a proctor to give you specific indications or information that would force you to place a patient into a certain position.

Therefore, it is extremely important that you understand these position and can readily place a patient in one if the occasion arrises.

Lateral Position

  1. Ensure that you lock the wheel and have the opposite side bed rail locked in the up position.
  2. Have the patient move towards you while staying on their back.
  3. Have the opposite side arm go under the head and have the arm closest to you go across their chest.
  4. Take the leg that is nearest you and cross it over the other leg.
  5. After getting permission, place one hand on the hip closest to you and place the other hand on their shoulder.
  6. Inform the patient of what you are doing so as to get assistance from them, and roll them away from you.
  7. You can add a pillow between their legs and between their arm and chest so as to improve comfort and help with their positioning.

Sim’s Position

The Sim’s position is basically the lateral position, however, instead of having the arm placed under the head, you have it placed behind them.

Prone Position

Place the patient on their stomach with their head turned to the side. Usually you will place the arms in an upward position.

Supine Position

  1. Place the patient on their back with their head normally looking straight. Place their arms to the side and ensure their legs are straight.
  2. Place a pillow behind their head so as to support their neck.

Fowler’s Position

The fowler’s position can be in a low (30 degrees) up to high (90 degrees position). If asked to perform this, it is best to ask the patient which one they prefer. If it is because they are having trouble breathing, then your best position is a high.

  1. With the patient in a supine position, raise the head of the bed to a specific degree, depending on the situation.
  2. Ensure that the patient is comfortable and won’t slip. If policy allows you, you can position the knee gatch so as to prevent slipping.


Orthopneic Position

  1. Have the patient sit up in a sitting position.
  2. Using the over-bed table, place a pillow on top and position the over-table in front of the patient.
  3. Have the patient lean forward and have their arms position in front so as the increase their comfort.

Practical skills test positions

CNA Skills Set: Patient Positions by