Graceful way to NOT answer all the personal questions my patients ask me. - page 4

Heyo! I would love some advice from y'all on how to dodge answering all these personal questions my patients ask me! I work in a busy ED and see multiple people a day. It seems like so many patients... Read More

  1. by   Flo.
    I work in psych, so I give very vague answers or try to change the topic. However, I will say that I have been in the ER as a patient. I was scared out of my mind and I made small talk with my nurses. I think I would have cried if one told me I was being inapporiate. I was desperatly seeking a human conncection in one of the scariest times of my life. Please have a little compassion as long as someone isn't being creepy.
  2. by   YumCookies
    I don't run into this too often - I am pretty open with my patients and don't mind talking about my life story briefly and in general terms. If I happen to run into a patient who asks questions about my religious, political, or sexual preferences, I'll probably just say "Enough about me, what about you? What can I do for you right now?"
  3. by   debiklages
    This is what I do ......Ask them another question. You could say "thats an interesting question , why are you asking?" If the person replies "I just wondered" or "I'm curious." Your next question could be "Are you always curious?". Then change the subject to the person's health care needs.
  4. by   JKL33
    Quote from Flo.
    I work in psych, so I give very vague answers or try to change the topic. However, I will say that I have been in the ER as a patient. I was scared out of my mind and I made small talk with my nurses. I think I would have cried if one told me I was being inapporiate. I was desperatly seeking a human conncection in one of the scariest times of my life. Please have a little compassion as long as someone isn't being creepy.
    No problem. There is a huge difference between a scary or otherwise emotional situation where words flow off the cuff and a situation where someone wants to play 50 questions until they come up with something to argue about or feel disdain about. ED nurses are pretty adept at knowing which is which.
  5. by   Seyleigh
    I'm a first semester nursing student who has been a patient in the past. Honestly? It almost feels rude not to ask a question about the provider or nurse when they've asked you so many questions.

    I like being a polite patient.
  6. by   jdub6
    Quote from Seyleigh
    I'm a first semester nursing student who has been a patient in the past. Honestly? It almost feels rude not to ask a question about the provider or nurse when they've asked you so many questions.

    I like being a polite patient.
    Thank you for this perspective. I can see it, and never realized it before. I think I'll work on ways to acknowledge and get past that.

    I'm naturally introverted and find small talk draining after awhile, and intimidating/awkward. I've gotten MUCH better at it as I gain nursing experience but I still feel trapped pretty often. For those who've suggested its rude or not compassionate to duck questions...while most patients don't realize it, even common personal questions ARE invasive, rude and hurtful to some. i think OP is right to seek polite/comfortable responses that protect personal info without being abrupt or unkind.

    I am a female in my 30s. I get asked all the time if I have kids. I recently had a wedding fall through. Hence, I am painfully aware that I have zero chance of starting my dream family anytime very soon and that my eggs are older by the minute. If I try to be polite and honestly answer that I have no children, I often hear "so many young people never have children these days...It's a shame" "doesn't your husband want any?" or worst "why not? don't you want any? dont you like children? they're wonderful. It was The best thing I ever did." They are unwelcome, painful reminders that my dreams may never come true. And that I'm weird because of it. I don't believe my patients intend any harm but this and similar questions get old very quickly.

    I try to pay attention to coworkers who seem well-liked by patients. Often I hear things I can use! I like the suggestion to subtley remind them that we are AT WORK; that detail has big effects on what is appropriate conversation. I appreciate the people who suggested something like "that's an interesting question, why do you ask about xxxx?" and "I'm so glad you care to ask about me because it tells me I'm doing a good job drawing your blood. I'm almost finished, here's what happens next..."

    With all that said, to the OP, if they hit a nerve and you're backed in a corner, I disagree with those who think its rude/inappropriate to say "I don't answer that question at work. How do you feel about it?" They don't mean to ask something uncomfortable but they did and I'm a captive audience, and they'll have to accept that i don't mean any harm in politely declining to answer.

    We are there to provide health care. Part of our job is helping them feel comfortable but we should never feel pressured to give personal info we don't want to (or to skip lunch to spend more time with patients, or to provide care without adequate protective attire because it might embarrass the patient, etc) If it's okay to duck questions with psych patients (who arguably need to feel comfortable more than anyone) then it's okay with anybody.

close