hi, su_z1010! i saw that you also resurrected and posted to a similar thread on the nursing student assistance forum. perhaps i can give you a couple of pointers. i'm in an area where there are a lot of people who don't speak english as a primary language. what they do is they don't say very much and until someone opens their mouth and reveals how badly or how good their command of the english language is, no one is the wiser. it's usually when someone starts talking out of their nervousness and gets "diarrhea" of the mouth that problems start to happen. there is nothing wrong with staying quiet and only speaking when you have something significant to say.
now, having said that, and being someone who suffered for many years of "foot in mouth" disease, and still do at times, here is some wisdom for you:
- don't apologize to patients for things they ask you that you don't know the answers to. it puts you in a inferior position and they lose trust in you as a healthcare provider. instead, you can chose to not directly answer a question or just simply say, "i need to check that out and get back to you."
- if you don't feel that you have something to say, then don't say anything. better to keep quiet than to open your mouth and say something you'll end up regretting later.
- always try to be aware of your body language because even if you say nothing verbally to another person your facial expressions and other body language can be screaming volumes about your true feelings.
- if you have a habit of muttering under your breath, scoffing, rolling your eyes at comments people make, etc., make sure you are aware you do this and control it around patients. this is body language that people understand and pick up quickly and interpret, usually, in the wrong way.
with time, experience and confidence your ability to speak with patients will develop. it may be a bit premature to bring up the subject of therapeutic communication techniques (they are usually introduced to students when they do a clinical rotation in a psych facility), but there actually is a skill to speaking with people in a care giving environment. people who are counselors, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatrists and others train for many years to perfect these communication techniques. here are two websites from nursing schools that are slide shows that introduce the subject of therapeutic communication. it will give you an idea that what you say to people does not necessarily have to be random words. the trick, however, is that it does take a lot of time and practice to learn how to perform this communication skill. but, then again, that's part of what nursing school is about--learning and practicing new skills.
- a really nice slide show on therapeutic communication. includes techniques, scenarios and blocks to communication.
- a slide show on therapeutic communication. talks about the components, goals, therapeutic and non-therapeutic techniques.