Content That ShannonBerry11 Likes

ShannonBerry11 2,341 Views

Joined: May 9, '12; Posts: 68 (26% Liked) ; Likes: 20
Student; from US

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  • Apr 28 '14
  • Apr 14 '14

    We all make communication mistakes. As a hospital-based nurse for over 30 years, I've certainly made my share, and witnessed many more. Along the way, I've picked up a few tips that I hope are helpful to students and new nurses.

    1. Avoid loaded language.

    Terms like "brain damage" and "life support" are riddled with emotion and unfavorable connotations for the lay person. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, there are times when "medicalspeak" is more effective for communication. It reframes concepts, sidestepping the emotion associated with certain terms in the vernacular. Think about what "life support" really means to us: vasopressors to maintain BP? A ventilator? Cardipulmonary bypass or ECMO? Then consider what it means to a layperson: impending death? Permanent dependence on a machine? A vegetative state? Hopelessness? Using medical terms for interventions is clearer and promotes understanding rather than distress.

    2. Death is death.

    Don't say "brain death" to families and loved ones when you mean death. The term "brain death" is not clear to laypersons; they might think it is reversible or different from "real death" somehow. "Brain death" is death. Humans do not live apart from a brain, although the heart may still beat. You and I understand this, of course, but laypersons often do not.

    Do not use euphemisms either. People need to hear words such as "death" and "died," not "passed on" or "expired." Do not risk miscommunicating about death by using polite terms. Families deserve and need clarity from health care providers in time of crisis. We can be compassionate while communicating clearly. Cultivate this skill in your nursing practice. Find people whose communication skills you admire and learn from them.

    3. EVERYONE in a hospital room is stressed.

    To patients and families, a hospital stay represents a crisis, and people in crisis have limited cognitive capacity. Their recall and processing are impaired. They may not communicate well with each other. This is why they will forget what you told them yesterday and you will have to tell one family member the same thing you told another family member. They aren't being difficult, they are in crisis. Antagonism from a busy nurse only escalates the crisis, so try to be patient, and use written resources to help provide answers to the common questions (location of bathrooms, visiting hours, etc.) Help the family identify a spokesperson who can act as the #1 go-to person for questions, and refer them to the spokesperson for daily updates. Don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed with inquiries from many people; politely deflect questions to the spokesperson or written materials.

    4. Tell people what you're doing.

    When you enter a patient's room, say, "Mrs. Jones, I have your atenolol, lovastatin, and IV antibiotic, carbepenem. Let's do the oral pills first, then I'll work on your IV medication." If someone interrupts you, say, "I'm giving medication (or whatever you're doing), and will be with you shortly." If you give the impression that you're not doing an important task, it's much easier for someone to interrupt. And don't forget that assessment and monitoring are also important. Nurses seem to forget that these essential responsibilities that are a huge part of our role save lives, prevent complications and promote healing.

    5. Finally, know that you, like everyone else, will make communication errors.

    If appropriate, admit the error and apologize. Rephrase what you said in a better way, and move on. You will show that you are human, that you care about communicating skillfully, and that you intend to make things right. And you will gain the respect of colleagues, patients and families.

    Although we all make communication missteps, communication is rarely, if ever, overdone in health care settings. Clear communication prevents errors. Try to default to more explaining, more clarifying, and more communicating, not less. You will find it makes you a safer and more effective nurse. Happy communicating!

  • Apr 12 '14

    It makes it so real and exciting and terrifying! LOL I have 3 full days at school and 2 days when I don't have class until 2:30 and then 3:30 so those will be my major study days.

    I'm going to try to make it so I don't study when I'm home with my kids unless they're asleep. So I'll be putting in a lot of study time at school.

  • Apr 5 '14

    This isn't really a rant. I just wanted to get everyones attention. I just want to give a HUGE shoutout to all the mothers in nursing school who are balancing work, raising families, AND staying on top of their grades. Nursing school is hard and very time consuming. Im 22, and I dont have children and ny biggest responsibility outside of doing well in nursing school is making sure I do well in track and maintian ny scholarship. I can't imagine having to add the responsibility of raising a child to an already heavy load of BSN course work..

    You women (and men too) are TRUE super heroes. I admire yall and I look up to you all in so many ways. I am so proud of yall and im even more grateful to be y'alls classmate. Keep up the good work!! If yall can and do excell, I have no excuse.

    (Sorry about the grammar. Im not as illiterate as my post portrays.)

  • Apr 3 '14

    Pulled some strings and will be able to do the CPR class this sat with CPR to go! woohoo! She said there will be some other U of M students there so hopefully I'll see some of you all

    I'll be glad to get all this out the way now

  • Mar 25 '14

    So I had a super cool moment recently.

    I ran into my former nursing professor. After some chit chat, she told me that there is now an extensive number of ICU/CCU preceptorship spots available to the ADN program... because of me.

    Say whaaat?

    At the time I was doing my preceptorship, there was only one critical care slot available. The manager of the facility was skeptical that ADN students could handle this particular unit which handled post-open heart surgery patients, ECMO, LVADs etc. etc. The spot was given to me and, unbeknownst to me, my performance changed the manager's mind.

    And to think all I cared about at the time was surviving, not killing anyone and hopefully get a job!

    (And, yes, I did get a job. I now work in the ICU.)

    So as corny as it may sound, you are not only representing yourself but also your school. You never know what doors open and close because of what you do in your clinical rotations and preceptorships, both for you and for others.