Communicating with patients

  1. Is it normal for me to feel so incompetent when it comes to communicating with potential patients? We haven't gone to clinicals yet (we start next week in geriatrics) but I'm really concerned about explaining things to my patients. I feel so inadequate. I have a hard time finding the right words to explain procedures and such. (NG tubes, etc.) Anyone have some advice to offer? I'd really appreciate it.
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   Nrs_angie
    Quote from JamieMSU
    Is it normal for me to feel so incompetent when it comes to communicating with potential patients? We haven't gone to clinicals yet (we start next week in geriatrics) but I'm really concerned about explaining things to my patients. I feel so inadequate. I have a hard time finding the right words to explain procedures and such. (NG tubes, etc.) Anyone have some advice to offer? I'd really appreciate it.
    Jaime,
    The best advice I can give you is to smile when you first meet them. Right away they will feel at ease with you and trust you. IF you do not know the asnwer... It's Okay. Always be honest and don't pretend to know something that you didn't. It also helps to introduce yourself as a student. That way they won't expect you to know everything and they will be more understanding of you when you don't.
    So is this your first clinical ever?
    Oh, and remember to stop yourself before using technical jargon like NG... older folks may not understand that... tell them its a tube that is placed into your stomach through your nose. Simple terms are best.
    Tell me what else you are concerned about... can you be more specific?
  4. by   grinnurse
    Like the other poster said introduce yourself as a student and when they have questions that you don't know the answer to say "I am not really sure, but, let me find out for you". The geriatric population is great. They usually love students b/c they know they are going to get lots of attention and they don't mind if you are a little bit slower with them. They actually prefer a slower pace (strictly speaking from my experiences). Let your true personality shine through and you will do fine. When preparing to perform the procedure, take a moment outside the door and run it through your head and then go in and explain. The more you do this the more comfortable you will feel. Again, I agree to use "laymens" terms with all your patients. I usually do this anyway b/c most of the time its hard to pronounce the medical terms anyway

    You will do fine if you are honest with your patients and smile...but never tell them that you have never done this "prodedure" before b/c that will only make both you and them nervous. "Act like you know what you are doing. You will have an instructor with you for all invasive procedures" you have practiced on a dummy. This quote is from our nursing instructors.

    Best of luck
  5. by   Jennerizer
    I felt the same way you did before I started clinicals. Just try to relax & imagine that this is someone you know & you're simply explaining something to them or making small talk. After awhile, you will see that most people are very receptive & eager to talk to you....especially older people. I know with some of my patients, no one takes the time to hold their hand, ask them how they are feeling, what's on their mind - so they do enjoy when someone takes an interest in them. Don't be afraid. The way I overcame it is by getting a job as a patient care tech & therefore had to constantly interact with patients in a hospital while I was in nursing school. The more you do something, the better you become at it...hopefully. Good luck!!!

    Jen
    http://journals.aol.com/jennerizer/nurse
  6. by   lilbiskit78
    I was terrible at talking to patients when I first started! I had no clue what to say, I would just stand there like....DUH! I graduate in 34 days (WOOHOO!) and it is so much easier now. At first, I was so worried about the patient liking me or what if they are mean to me?? Now that I am in 4th semester and we are more into the role of the RN, I don't have time to worry about them liking me!!! Plus, you become more confident in dealing with difficult people after you have done it a few times. Most of the time they are just scared. I found a good way to talk out procedures or tests in a simplified manner....I practice on my husband. This is not to say he is stupid, not at all; but he has NO medical knowledge & works in a totally unrelated field. If I can get him to understand, that means I can simplify it enough that most patients can understand. Good luck in your program.
  7. by   JamieMSU
    Quote from Nrs_angie
    Jaime,
    The best advice I can give you is to smile when you first meet them. Right away they will feel at ease with you and trust you. IF you do not know the asnwer... It's Okay. Always be honest and don't pretend to know something that you didn't. It also helps to introduce yourself as a student. That way they won't expect you to know everything and they will be more understanding of you when you don't.
    So is this your first clinical ever?
    Oh, and remember to stop yourself before using technical jargon like NG... older folks may not understand that... tell them its a tube that is placed into your stomach through your nose. Simple terms are best.
    Tell me what else you are concerned about... can you be more specific?
    Yes this is my very first semester in clinicals. I really just feel like I am not prepared to care for patients. This semester has gone by so quickly and I have learned so much but I don't feel like I've had time to absorb all of this new information. I've heard that once I have some experience with patient care, things get easier. I just want the patient to recieve the best care possible. Right now everything is so brand new to me, it's overwhelming. I have recently gotten a job at a local hospital in the STEP program which is designed for student nurses so hopefully this will help me out.
    Basically I am just concerned about meeting a patient's needs and expectations, explaining procedures to them, making them feel at ease about it. I tend to get extremely nervous about these things.
    Thanks for your responses!
  8. by   su_z1010
    Quote from JamieMSU
    Yes this is my very first semester in clinicals. I really just feel like I am not prepared to care for patients. This semester has gone by so quickly and I have learned so much but I don't feel like I've had time to absorb all of this new information. I've heard that once I have some experience with patient care, things get easier. I just want the patient to recieve the best care possible. Right now everything is so brand new to me, it's overwhelming. I have recently gotten a job at a local hospital in the STEP program which is designed for student nurses so hopefully this will help me out.
    Basically I am just concerned about meeting a patient's needs and expectations, explaining procedures to them, making them feel at ease about it. I tend to get extremely nervous about these things.
    Thanks for your responses!
    Jamie,

    I don't know if this helps you or not, but I too am in my first semester and am oh sooo nervous myself. Our class started out in med-surg, but I have yet to touch a patient. So far I have just been "go-for" for the nurse I was shadowing. If I find a technique that helps me get over the jitters I will gladly share it with you. Until then, good luck!

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