Disclosing personal info to patients - page 2

I work in a small rural hospital. I work weekends only, 12 hr shifts 7a-7p. What do you say when you are asked quite often your religion, when you go to church, what church you attend, are you... Read More

  1. by   Altra
    A couple of replies to this thread specifically addressed the OP being chided for working on Sundays. I went back & re-read the OP, twice, and can't find that in there anywhere.

    The questions the OP says she is encountering do sound like fairly typical small-town/rural America small talk, IMO. I'm not denying that some may be taken aback by these quite personal questions -- these are not things that I myself would ask a stranger. But it is a cultural norm in some areas. If the OP is getting these same types of questions from multiple patients/families ... do you want to label the entire town rude, or possibly could you accept it as part of the local color?

    I grew up mostly in heavily Catholic areas of the northeast. However, during my high school years my family relocated to a southern state, although it was an urban not rural area. Even in that urban, more "cosmopolitan" area we found ourselves continually asked, "where do you go to church?" We learned that it was much more about small talk than personal judgements.

    There tend to be a multitude of threads here at allnurses.com regarding tolerance of diversity. Are we forgetting to be tolerant of the cultural quirks of rural Christians of conservative denominations?

    <<donning flameproof suit>>
  2. by   KellieNurse06
    Oh that's a piece of cake! I have a friend who is a nurse who taught me well on this type of thing...you just simply turn it around right back to them with the same question.............and if they don't stop asking until you answer them just tell them you don't discuss any of your personal life at the workplace...end of story....... Works like a charm!
  3. by   Tweety
    Quote from MLOS
    Are we forgetting to be tolerant of the cultural quirks of rural Christians of conservative denominations?

    One should be cognizant of the culture they reside in for sure. I grew up in a semi-rural area of North Carolina, and unfortunately found the conservative Christians to be quite intolerant and not worthy of my respect. Of course I demanded tolerance of them, and had to in turn give it back. Sometimes though you get what you give. But that was outside of nursing. As a nurse, I have to be tolerant of the diversity of my patients. Not just the Christians, but the drug addicts, criminals and sinners alike. So you are making a good point that I essentially agree with.

    (By now my skin is flame retardant and I don't need a suit). I don't mean to Christian bash, just sharing my experience, and I won't allow that in this thread. As well as I'll be wary if Christians gather and whine about mistreated they are in today's society.

    Nurses who work Sundays should be respected by their patients. But we should understand culturally why they are asking "why aren't you in church today?" I usually give patients a break and let them babble on about whatever they want to talk about and can steer them away from my personal business. Most people want to talk about themselves anyway.
    Last edit by Tweety on Apr 25, '07
  4. by   walk6miles
    I am so happy to get this off my chest! I work in a cardiac unit now; having spent 18 years in Open Heart/Transplant Recovery (it's nice to have a conscious patient!!).
    I frequently work with another nurse who is a bit younger than I. She is a good nurse BUT she has a hearing deficit and refuses to use a hearing aide.
    Our unit is quite small and close to another treatment area - there is always a crowd coming or going.
    This nurse has repeatedly told the story of her unhappy marriage; her personal beliefs and feelings to her patients - her comings and goings, etc.
    ad nausea.
    I have spoken to the manager of the unit about the loud, intimate conversations and there have been many complaints from her patients because she asks her assessment questions loudly and invariably repeats some of the patient's reply back so that (as one patient stated: "all my personal information was spread around for anyone to hear:.
    I have on one occasion given my patients sleeping pills; they were awakened repeatedly by her noisy cell phone conversation.
    Any suggestions??
  5. by   PsychRN-Kris
    If I'm not comfortable discussing what ever the question asked is I just say "Oh, I don't discuss that with any of my patients. It's personal." Then I smile politely.
  6. by   bethin
    Thanks for all the replies. I think next time I'm asked about kids and husbands I'm going to tell them that I nagged my last husband to death and now I'm just sticking to dogs. :spin: At least they don't need 3am feedings.

    Since I've been on high dose steroids I've been asked when my baby is due. Last weekend a visitor asked me this as they walked by the nurse's station. I told them I was 5 months pregnant - with twins. When I went into the room where the visitor was she told her husband that I was pregnant with twins and he should be easy on me.

    Should have seen my coworkers faces when they heard I was pregnant. They started planning a shower until I corrected them.

    I can deal with the pts who are just making conversation and are lonely. They don't bother me. I never did have patience when it came to nosy people.
  7. by   bethin
    Quote from walk6miles
    I am so happy to get this off my chest! I work in a cardiac unit now; having spent 18 years in Open Heart/Transplant Recovery (it's nice to have a conscious patient!!).
    I frequently work with another nurse who is a bit younger than I. She is a good nurse BUT she has a hearing deficit and refuses to use a hearing aide.
    Our unit is quite small and close to another treatment area - there is always a crowd coming or going.
    This nurse has repeatedly told the story of her unhappy marriage; her personal beliefs and feelings to her patients - her comings and goings, etc.
    ad nausea.
    I have spoken to the manager of the unit about the loud, intimate conversations and there have been many complaints from her patients because she asks her assessment questions loudly and invariably repeats some of the patient's reply back so that (as one patient stated: "all my personal information was spread around for anyone to hear:.
    I have on one occasion given my patients sleeping pills; they were awakened repeatedly by her noisy cell phone conversation.
    Any suggestions??
    Can you report this as a HIPPA violation? I would personally be humiliated if the nurse loudly repeated my answers about my 'habits'. Most employers require that their nurses be able to see and hear with help with devices within normal limitations. If she has this hard of a time hearing, how is she going to hear a cry for help? If she has the device she should use it. Patients have the right to privacy and she is infringing on that right.

    Speaking so loud that she's waking patients who have had a sleeping pill?? Outrageous!
  8. by   I_am_Julia
    dance around the question and basically say i do a bit of it all. personal questions are a pet peeve on any job for me.


    Quote from bethin
    i work in a small rural hospital. i work weekends only, 12 hr shifts 7a-7p. what do you say when you are asked quite often your religion, when you go to church, what church you attend, are you married, children, etc? i've even been asked on a sunday no less, have i heard the truth concerning jesus christ and have i accepted him as my personal savior. i've been offered bibles that my religion would frown upon. i was born and raised catholic but my current hours do not allow me to attend church, which i already feel guilty about. i hate saying "none of your business" which it isn't. once, i disclosed to an elderly woman when she asked if i was married, dating or had kids that i had none of the above. she called me an old maid and said that the odds of me getting married at my age are less than me being involved in a terrorist attack. i've been asked the exact location of my house, my parents names, etc. not all of these people who ask are elderly, some are middle age and should know better.

    sometimes i feel like lying and say i'm married, with 2 kids, and i'm atheist and i live on mars.

    what do you say when asked these questions? how do i tactfully put that their questions are out of line and have nothing to do with the care i provide? oh, and i've been told countless times i'm going to hell for working on a sunday.
  9. by   saraltx
    I'm a student just starting out to think about different things I will be confronted with in my future career. I agree with what was said about keeping private stuff private towards patients, and that there is no need to share more information than one is comfortable with. Everyone's idea of what is appropriate information to share is different, so saying NO should not be taken as an offense. I am a private person and like to keep my professional and private life separate. So on reading this thread, I'm wondering what other nurses think about discosing personal info to co-workers? on my clinicals in school I often thought that some nurses are overly inquisitive about other's private life. Such as if a patient asks you "Are you married etc." it seems easier not to answer than if co-workers ask the same thing, because we spend more time with co-workers and coming across as rude might create a bad work environment and I have heard so much chatting about personal stuff among the nurses that it seens all but expected to answer. Am I the only one who does not like the thought of sharing my private life with my co-workers?
  10. by   I_am_Julia
    Just say something cute like... "I am every woman" and laugh it off. I don't respond to personal questions at all. It hasn't created a bad environment for me. However, if you socialize with your co-workers outside of work it is more apt to happen than now, witht he personal questions that is.
    Quote from saraltx
    I'm a student just starting out to think about different things I will be confronted with in my future career. I agree with what was said about keeping private stuff private towards patients, and that there is no need to share more information than one is comfortable with. Everyone's idea of what is appropriate information to share is different, so saying NO should not be taken as an offense. I am a private person and like to keep my professional and private life separate. So on reading this thread, I'm wondering what other nurses think about discosing personal info to co-workers? on my clinicals in school I often thought that some nurses are overly inquisitive about other's private life. Such as if a patient asks you "Are you married etc." it seems easier not to answer than if co-workers ask the same thing, because we spend more time with co-workers and coming across as rude might create a bad work environment and I have heard so much chatting about personal stuff among the nurses that it seens all but expected to answer. Am I the only one who does not like the thought of sharing my private life with my co-workers?
  11. by   teeituptom
    Im always willing to talk about things like Golf, how importtant Golf is, How necessary Golf is, How Fun Golf is, Golf Jokes.

    I also talk about how stupid GW Bushie is.

    I chat about family friends. Afterall Ive been in this ER for almost 20 yrs. I easily know half the town and the other half knows me.
  12. by   luckylucyrn
    Quote from Tweety
    I was going to say the same thing. I always bring the conversation around to my dogs. I love talking dogs.
    I agree I think dogs is pretty neutral territory...now if a patient starts talking about Boxers, we are friends for life!
  13. by   psalm
    Oh, Bethin!! Can we name your twins Lemonjello & Orangejello? When is your shower, can we call come to it? lol!

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