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First RN Job and Anxious About Speaking English

Nurse Beth   (249 Views 8 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

15 Followers; 95 Articles; 230,474 Profile Views; 1,913 Posts

Dear Nurse Beth,

Hi . I just got a new job at RCU floor. Is there any advice? It will be my first job as an RN and I'm very nervous. I have English as my second language, shy person and I'm so stressed about making communication mistakes or something. Does anyone have the same fear?
Thank you.

Dear First Job as RN,

Congrats on landing your first job!

First of all, they (meaning your hiring manager) picked you, and they have heard you speak. They have confidence in your ability to safely do the job. Second, and assuming you are practicing in the States, you also passed the NCLEX, which is in English. Third, your letter does not stand out as written by someone who is not proficient in English.

Remember that in today's increasingly diverse workplace, ESL (English as a second language) is not uncommon. Many nurses, doctors and patients are just like you in that English is not their first language and they work in an English-speaking society.

When taking orders from a provider, repeat back any verbal or telephone orders. If necessary, spell out any words that cause you uncertainty. It's highly important to make sure you understand and are understood.

If your accent makes it hard for others to understand you, consider speech improvement and accent modification classes. When talking, slow your rate of speech and put effort into learning which syllables to stress for correct pronunciation. You can record yourself on your phone to practice. There are many online resources available to help you.

As far as being shy, read Confessions of an Introvert. There are plenty of us introverts, and you are not alone.

I really hope you love your new job and do well. I also hope you'll let us know how you're doing in a month or so. 

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth


Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next! 

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traumaRUs has 27 years experience as a MSN, APRN and specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

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As a provider who takes phone calls from nurses, here are my tips:

1. Speak slowly

2. Some cultures pronounce words differently than native US English speakers - try to learn the local pronunciation of words.

3.  Make sure you have all the info at hand when you call: name of the pt, date of birth, allergies, pertinent meds, weight of the patient if the needed

4. If you have a difficult to pronounce or spell last name, please spell it for the provider - we have to document our calls also

5. Relax and don't worry about asking someone to repeat something - no harm in that. 

6. I live and work in a rural area and don't always have a great cell signal so don't be alarmed if the call drops. 

Best wishes in your new job!

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Nurse SMS has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

4 Followers; 5,804 Posts; 45,959 Profile Views

I just want to offer you support. One of my favorite things about being a nurse is the diversity I get to work with. I have learned things about other cultures I NEVER would have been exposed to if not for my coworkers who come from different backgrounds than myself. I love their food, I love their shyness, I love their work ethics, I love their stories and I love the way we find common ground in our love for nursing, our children, our families and the like. I hope you are welcomed and made to feel comfortable in your new role. Congratulations on your job!

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Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

15 Followers; 95 Articles; 1,913 Posts; 230,474 Profile Views

1 hour ago, not.done.yet said:

I just want to offer you support. One of my favorite things about being a nurse is the diversity I get to work with. I have learned things about other cultures I NEVER would have been exposed to if not for my coworkers who come from different backgrounds than myself. I love their food, I love their shyness, I love their work ethics, I love their stories and I love the way we find common ground in our love for nursing, our children, our families and the like. I hope you are welcomed and made to feel comfortable in your new role. Congratulations on your job

I love this 🙂

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

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I just want to add one addition word of caution:

As a nurse, I agree with all of the above posts, and I welcome you as a colleague.    However, I am also a person with a hearing impairment.   Please remember that some colleagues and patients will really need you to work on your speaking skills.   When there is an emergency or stressful situation, you cannot assume that others will hear and understand what you are trying to say if you don't speak up clearly.

When working with patients, it is not fair to expect that they will or even can "work harder to understand you."   They are sick, injured, or in some other sort of distress that will make it harder for them to compensate for any weaknesses you have in verbal communication.   So be sure you ask them if they are having trouble understanding you if there is any chance of there being a problem.

I think that you will find that most people (staff and patients) are willing to meet you half-way ... but there will be those for whom you will need to make an extra effort, even if they would like to be accommodating to your needs.

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Nurse SMS has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

4 Followers; 5,804 Posts; 45,959 Profile Views

14 minutes ago, llg said:

I just want to add one addition word of caution:

As a nurse, I agree with all of the above posts, and I welcome you as a colleague.    However, I am also a person with a hearing impairment.   Please remember that some colleagues and patients will really need you to work on your speaking skills.   When there is an emergency or stressful situation, you cannot assume that others will hear and understand what you are trying to say if you don't speak up clearly.

When working with patients, it is not fair to expect that they will or even can "work harder to understand you."   They are sick, injured, or in some other sort of distress that will make it harder for them to compensate for any weaknesses you have in verbal communication.   So be sure you ask them if they are having trouble understanding you if there is any chance of there being a problem.

I think that you will find that most people (staff and patients) are willing to meet you half-way ... but there will be those for whom you will need to make an extra effort, even if they would like to be accommodating to your needs.

I agree. When my son was dying, the physician wanting to talk to us about making him a DNR was literally unable to be understood by us. It was very distressing to be unable to understand what he was saying and even moreso to be told we were "stuck" with him as the intensivist on-call for that week. We weren't given the opportunity even to have someone translate.

That being said, you sound like you are very motivated to succeed. Nurse Beth gave you some great advice and I know you will follow through.

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Hello Nurse Beth,

I have the similar fear as her. First of all, I’ve been living in the US around 2 and half yr, and my English still not fluent, especially when I’m nervous I will end up saying nonsense. Currently, I’m in the nursing school and doing my clinical rotation. I feel anxious to speak to my patient and my instructor. I’m scared to make communication mistake because I don't want to harm the patient.  Whenever I give report to my instructor I feel so nervous and can’t arrange proper words.

Do you have any advice for me ?

Thank you

 

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Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

15 Followers; 95 Articles; 1,913 Posts; 230,474 Profile Views

9 hours ago, Nonnativespesker said:

Hello Nurse Beth,

I have the similar fear as her. First of all, I’ve been living in the US around 2 and half yr, and my English still not fluent, especially when I’m nervous I will end up saying nonsense. Currently, I’m in the nursing school and doing my clinical rotation. I feel anxious to speak to my patient and my instructor. I’m scared to make communication mistake because I don't want to harm the patient.  Whenever I give report to my instructor I feel so nervous and can’t arrange proper words.

Do you have any advice for me ?

Thank you

 

Your problem is fear as much as fluency and you need to push through. How do you do that? Practice, listen self-correct, practice. Reward yourself for progress. Focus on progress, not failure. And take an ESL class at your local college.

Best wishes 🙂

 

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