How do you tell someone they smell bad? - page 2
Not a patient, but a student? The other day I was getting report from the previous RN, and she had an LPN student with her that she was precepting, and the student smelled awful. It nearly knocked... Read More
Jun 27, '09Occupation: Neuroscience Staff Nurse Specialty: Psych, LTC, Acute Care ; From: US ; Joined: Aug '07; Posts: 1,853; Likes: 970I would not say anything especially if you only smelled it that one time. She is not in direct contact with you daily and you are not precepting her. You may never have to report off to her again and her time there is short. I am sure if you said something, her self esteem would really drop to the floor and kill her confidence. Its hard working with people who smell. There is someone at my church that really has bad odor and I cannot bring myself to say anything.
Jun 27, '09Occupation: Rehab/LTC Specialty: LTC/Rehab,Med/Surg, OB/GYN, Ortho, Neuro ; Joined: Mar '03; Posts: 322; Likes: 397I don't know, going to the preceptor/instructor to talk to the student seems like it would be more embarrassing for the student. I think the OP said that it was just one time that she noticed it, maybe the student noticed it already and couldn't take care of it until after clinical day was over. If it happens a second time, I would go to the student directly and tell her. Is there a gentle way to mention it? Probably not, but I think coming from one person would be much better than "Hey, so and so told me that you have an odor, and I need to talk to you about it."
Jun 27, '09Occupation: Psych RN Specialty: 12 year(s) of experience in Psych, M/S, Ortho, Float. ; From: CA ; Joined: Nov '04; Posts: 276; Likes: 168Well, if nobody tells her, she won't figure it out. You get used to your own smell and so will not know why everyone is acting wierd. I had a student with bad teeth and I was hesitant to tell him, but one of the patients did, in the worst possible way, but actually a very direct approach "you stink". That actually helped. I allowed him to chew gum. I never allowed it, but it this case it was necessary until he got his tooth fixed.
So now with patients and staff, if it seems to be a chronic issue, i.e. more than one day, I just tell them in private that they have a smell without asking a whole bunch of questions. I'm nice and not confrontational, but I do tell them.
Jun 27, '09Occupation: engineer Specialty: nursing family members with rare disease ; From: US ; Joined: Feb '09; Posts: 19; Likes: 23Anybody can have an unusual day and smell bad occasionally. But if this occurs again, I would tell her nicely. Of course she will be offended or hurt. But is it better to find out now and deal with it, or go through life wondering why you don't get hired or can't seem to have a social life? Or overhear people talking behind your back? It is not pleasant to be the one who tells her either, but it is the kindest thing to do under the circumstances.
Sure, there is a chance it is for a medical reason and can't be fixed, so bringing that up to her first as a potential reason would be best. But even then, I would want to know in case there are other steps and I didn't realize I needed to do anything more than what I was doing.
Jun 27, '09Occupation: RN From: US ; Joined: Oct '08; Posts: 97; Likes: 50I would hope that if I have bad body odor someone would tell me. Yes it can be difficult to say but I would be hurt a lot more if people were talking about me rather than pulling me in a room and saying,"This is hard for me to say but I have noticed that I smell an odor coming from you, if it is a medical condition I am sorry and can you educate me on it". Simple to the point and since she will be a nurse soon ( I am assuming) it is better to have a colleague tell me rather than a patient.
Jun 27, '09Occupation: Full time nursing student! Specialty: Gyn/STD clinic tech ; Joined: Oct '08; Posts: 350; Likes: 585maybe i am weird, but i would rather someone tell me.
what if she did have a skin infection, but does not know it because she cannot smell it on herself?
i would rather someone take me in the back and really talk to me..
Jun 27, '09From: US ; Joined: Jul '04; Posts: 1,071; Likes: 1,013If I can stand lower GI bleeds, I can stand a little BO. It could even get funny. We could rate our pts' BO by the number of coffee filters with a pack of coffee apiece in 'em left under the bed. A little humor goes a long way in promoting tolerance.
Jun 27, '09Occupation: DSP and Student Joined: Nov '08; Posts: 182; Likes: 371. Vickks vapor rub under your nose.
2. Don't stand down wind to them.
3. Breathe through your mouth.
4. Chalk it up to cultural differences.
Jun 27, '09Joined: Apr '08; Posts: 45; Likes: 22I think she should be told not talked about or teased by co-workers, it's rude and very childish being that we are talking about ADULTS really don't expect this behavior from grown folks. Then put yourself in their shoes how would you feel? Saying something in private is a good idea or maybe even calling them on the phone at home is also a good idea too. So there is a way to approach the situation without being offensive or ugly. Remember the persons feelings. My
Jun 27, '09Occupation: Registered Nurse Specialty: 6 year(s) of experience in Correctional Nursing ; From: UK ; Joined: Jun '09; Posts: 1,581; Likes: 1,240I don't know that it has to be the instructor -- although it is probably better that way. In the spirit of being human beings we could privately point out something like that. We have no control over how people receive what we tell them. It seems you genuinely have this woman's best interests at heart.
By the way, the instructor may not discuss it with her.
If I were the student and you were the a nurse from my clinical site I think I would be fine if you told me directly. Sure I would be embarrassed but ultimately I woud be grateful that you took a moment to help me out.
But that is just me.....
Jun 27, '09Joined: Dec '06; Posts: 2,135; Likes: 3,205I would tell her versus bringing it up to her preceptor or instructor in this instance. It's already embarassing enough and if the instructor says, "Nurses mentioned an odor..." that will be even more humiliating.
You come across like a compassionate and kind person and I am sure they will see that. Take them aside and say, "I don't mean to embarass or offend you but I am a little worried about an off odor coming from you. I just want to make sure you are okay and feeling well. It's hard to notice these things with ourselves and I wanted you to be aware. Have you seen your doctor, etc?! I'm sure it's nothing serious but was just concerned for you. If I can help in any way pls let me know and rest assured this conversation is solely between the two of us."
Something like this could work. Keep it focused on the medical and on your concern for her health. And if she knows it's between the two of you she might feel better because her first question to herself might be how many people are gossiping about her, etc. I would rather know and I think in the end she would as well. Sweet that you care.
Jun 27, '09Occupation: Student Specialty: none yet! ; From: US ; Joined: Jan '09; Posts: 138; Likes: 36Quote from ScrubbyThere is a medical condition referred to as fish odour syndrome, Trimethylaminuria. I worked with a girl who suffered from this and management could not do anything about it. Some of my coworkers were mean and would call her fishy and it was so sad.
I would not want to be in the position to tell someone they smell bad. I would not know how to go about it. I don't think there is anything you could say and not embarass someone.
I saw this on Medical Mysteries (My fav!) They said high protein foods add to the smell, especially eggs.
Jun 27, '09From: US ; Joined: Jul '08; Posts: 56; Likes: 27Quote from anonymurseYour patients? That's not funny IMO.If I can stand lower GI bleeds, I can stand a little BO. It could even get funny. We could rate our pts' BO by the number of coffee filters with a pack of coffee apiece in 'em left under the bed. A little humor goes a long way in promoting tolerance.