I always have really good connections with my patients; I'm always smiling, I try to be as polite as I can be, and I look 16 and some patients think that's cute. My main issue is that I'm male and I feel that it must be extremely awkward for a female patient to have me give her a 5min assessment, for example. I also look like a high schooler and I feel like they're too scared for me to do anything to them because I'm "too young", but I'm 20. I really wanted to administer an IM, or SC injection last clinical, but I could sense that my Nurse did not trust me to do an of it; although I've practiced in class. I just need to step my game up and just do it! Does anyone have any confidence-building tips, or just any general clinical tips that not only I, but other readers could use?
My advice is "fake it 'til you make it!" Why do you feel like it must be "extremely awkward" for your female patients? I don't think it is. Especially for just a quick 5-min assessment. The patients are used to being asked questions and having their vitals/assessments done. Be friendly and act confident, even if you don't feel it on the inside. Maybe you could practice your assessments on family/friends? I assess my siblings all the time to practice. Eventually, you'll get so used to assessing people that the confidence will come naturally and you won't think about the fact that your patient is a woman (which shouldn't matter anyway).
About injections- Unless your nurse specifically says that she'll do the injection, I recommend you do it anyway. Maybe she was watching you a bit closer since she knew it was your first one. Other than accidentally sticking yourself there's a really low chance of "messing up" so just go for it when you get the chance. Needles go in super easily through the skin and they're super quick. Another opportunity will come for you to try again, so don't worry!
Oh yeah, I also look a lot younger than I am and I'm 21. I found that standing up tall and wearing makeup makes me seem older. Since you're a guy that last part might not help you too much though lol. Just remind yourself that you worked hard to get into nursing school, you earned your spot, and you're paying to be at clinical so you can learn. That helps me feel more confident.
I have not yet been assigned a female patient, and its obviously a double standard as females in my clinical group have been assigned male patients. I also understand the patients that my clinical group is dealing with don't want a male taking care of them. However, I was assigned to pressure injury dressing change on a female patient, with a female student assisting. It was awkward at first, much the way my first patient ever this semester was awkward. This past week I dealt with a completely contracted patient in the fetal position. This was the first time dealing with a patient like that, and not sure how much force, pressure to use to maneuver them was awkward. However, after every new experience I get a boost of confidence
That awkward feeling is because this is new, and you're stepping outside your comfort zone (which is a good thing)! There's no way around it, if you want to be a nurse, you are going to have to embrace new experiences. If you don't fail sometimes then you aren't reaching far enough.
As a woman I can tell you I've never given a second thought to whether the nurse or doctor taking care of me was male/female. I just wanted them to be competent and kind.
Trust in yourself!
The only advice I can give is practice. Patients can sense when we don't believe in ourselves and it's hard to believe that you can do something you've never done before. This is your own opportunity to screw up with (almost) no repercussions, so utilize it! As long as you're not violating a patient's rights, you shouldn't get in trouble for anything you do. It took me several attempts to get an IV started throughout school and I still don't relish the idea, but I just had to keep practicing.
As for being a male with a female patient, I just go in and do what I need to do, letting them know what I am doing, and I have only ever had an issue a few times. If you have the time, get a PRN job as a PCT/PCA. By about the third time you've cleaned up an incontinent 80 year old woman, it won't be a big deal to you which will make it less of a big deal to them.
Looking young can be a challenge but it is in no way insurmountable. I've had similar issues, especially when I started out in nursing at 25 and was lacking in confidence. I totally agree with those above that say "fake it until you make it". If you stand off to the side and look awkward or scared, then that's going to make the patient more uncomfortable than if they just have a young guy talking to them and explaining what you'd like to do (meds, assessments, shots, whatever).
Confidence without a lot of background is hard to fake, but that is where it helps to do your homework. Have an established goal each time you go into a patient's room and before you walk in there, make sure you are prepared. Just getting report at bedside and introducing yourself doesn't require much preparation, but if you're coming in with a handful of meds or needing to do a procedure, then take the time to do your homework. What are the meds for -- as in, why is SHE specifically getting them, not 'what are its 15 different uses?'. Do you need to be getting any vital signs before you administer the meds? Are there any reasons why you should be holding any of the meds that AM? Walk in with the expectation that you are going to need to identify and explain every med you're giving, because legitimately you should be doing this. As you get more comfortable you can just name each med as you scan them "oh, this is your Lisinopril 40 for your elevated blood pressure this AM of 168/92 and this is your Celexa 20 for your depression and anxiety. We are holding the scheduled Colace because of your loose stools". Or at bare minimum naming the meds and asking if they have questions about what it's for, if it's someone that's familiar with their home meds. Expect that they're probably getting something besides home meds if they're in the hospital.
If you're going in to do your assessment, what specifically are you assessing? Are you in a setting where doing a literal naked head-to-toe is required or can you do a more focused assessment? Do you remember why the patient is even here -- what will be involved in a focused assessment? Are there any peripheral issues to be considered -- i.e. skin breakdown, new-onset problems since arriving, etc? Checking out the documentation of previous nurses to see what they've assessed can be helpful in the beginning as well.
Need to do a procedure? Make sure you have everything (double and triple check) before you walk into the room so you're not running back and forth and getting flustered.
The more you do now while you have your safety net, the better you will feel about it later when it really does all fall on you. Learning how to connect with patients and feel comfortable in your own knowledge doesn't occur overnight but taking steps with each patient to learn about what you need to do will help expand your knowledge while also making sure that you're not giving something that should be held that day.
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