Jump to content

Nursing advice in social situations, HELP!?

by PrayingToPass PrayingToPass (Member)

Family & friends approach me for medical advice in social situations, now that they know I am a nursing student. How do you handle these awkward situations? Do you ever get backlash or defensive reactions if you simply ask if someone is "all right?" Do your friends/family ever accuse you of "trying to diagnose them?" I have not even entered my BSN program at NSC yet and I already foresee the need for me to come to a peace within myself by not interjecting health advice that has not been solicited. But what should I do when it is? ...

I wouldn't offer advice and if someone asks... Politely tell them you are not a doctor (or nurse yet).

Or if you want to make light of things.. I always say "Sorry, I haven't gotten to that chapter yet ;) "

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

Don't start giving out advice now, or it will never end. Practice saying "You should see/ask your PCP about that." Or, if it's serious enough, "Maybe you should go to the ER to get that checked out/stitched up/fixed."


Specializes in Cardiac.

Well to be honest most nurses do not normally tell people they are nurse and also most refuse to give any medical advice or help a relative. Its a safety precaution..a.k.a. CYA! Ive finished Nursing school and am just studying to take my nclex and working and applying for jobs and beyond telling a relative what their medication is for-if its pretty simple and easy and most people know or suggesting for a relative to see a doc because their cough sounds too wheezy OR telling someone to add some probiotics to their diet after being on antibx to help with diarrhea or visiting a relative who is in the hospital for COPD and yes just visiting...I do NOT give anyone medical help/advice...although i do get called now and again to help with removing stingers or splinters or wrapping up a cut finger. LOL. I dont do much really...nothing more than a lay person could do...the only real "nurse" thing i do in that situation is insist they wash the area really well with soap and water and to be clean and not get the area dirty....LOL...you'll reach a point where you know to stay out of it and not try to offer medical advice or assistance...its not in your best interest! maybe with family its OK to help now and again with say cleaning a cut BUT...definetly you cant diagnose or prescribe or really do anything a doctor could do...even on a medical floor the nuses are always in touch with the doctors updating them on patient changes and requesting medication changes or requesting xyz to be put in an order. The more you'll around it, you'll learn. If you do decide to go into community nursing then you have more authority under your scope to practice to operate with more autonomy with standing MD orders...like nurses at a health department do, for example.

Spinmass, ADN, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Has 5 years experience.

You don't tell people your a nurse (or nursing student). Tell them you drive a beer delivery truck. People usually chuckle at that and keep it moving.

missmollie, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Neuroscience. Has 4 years experience.

I do announce that I'm a nursing student, but only because my younger sister has been a nurse for 8 years. They are not going to ask me, they will ask her. If anyone asks me for advice, I say "That's probably something you should ask your doctor about".

Bottom line: Not my circus, not my monkeys. I know so little and if they are worried enough to ask a nursing student or nurse, then they should probably go see their doctor.

Don't be afraid to tell someone you don't know. Don't be afraid to share what you do know. But always follow up with the caveat that they MUST see their doctor. If they are the reluctant type, then use the fact that you are more knowledgeable as an asset, and tell them if you were them, you'd see a doctor.

Say no. It's okay. Say you don't know, it's okay. Say you're not sure and can't help them, that's okay too.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

Welcome to AN! The largest online nursing community!

For right now I would be sure to tell them you haven't even started school yet. In the future you need to be cognizant that the things you say you can be held liable for...and sued. Yes...family members will sue you. Strangers will as well.

It is best to say things like...You need to talk to your MD. I really can't say..you really need to see your PCP. Just because you are a nurse doesn't mean they can replace their PCP.

I have been known to intercede when I think a family member is in danger...and I have been known to tell them the harsh realities to put the fear into them to seek care.


Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

Even now as a nurse, 99% of the time I'll refer people to their HCP. It's not my place to diagnose peoples' problems, especially if not asked. People do ask me medical questions, and I can sometimes ask them assessment questions now to maybe guide something (and occasionally, if they know enough about what's going on, offer some solutions). If I am not certain of what's going on, I absolutely tell them they need to see their HCP. Like Esme said, I have scared people into going to their doc. I'll tell them the potential complications if they don't.

ETA: I am occasionally called into family situations with my husband's family to get them to go to the ER, like when my hubby's grandmother had a major GI bleed (it took A LOT of convincing to get her to go in) or when his grandfather ended up needing a pacemaker. I'm always they one they call to go with them to the ER to help them navigate everything, which is fine. I know what to ask (for the most part- I'm a new grad), and I can translate some of the medical speak.

LOL @ :whistling: "Not my circus, Not my monkeys" ~ MissMollie

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

In social situations I tell nobody that I'm a nurse, nor do I offer unsolicited advice. Although I work as a nurse, I'd rather not discuss the nursing profession or advise people on their maladies during my time away from the workplace.


Specializes in Cardiac.

Actually I was kicking myself after I got off of here last night because I did want to mention-though others now have that as a nursing student or esp as not even having started NS yet you really dont know much-if anything...its only really once you are close to finishing your program and your taking on the role of a graduate nurse that you should probably know quite a bit more...but as others mentioned, its in YOUR best interest to NOT blast it around that you are a Nurse-once you become one, which enshaAllah you will or even a Nursing Student and if people insist upon knowing what you are studying and you decide to tell them and then they try to ask for advice you tell them you can't really give them much if any advice and they need to see a doctor. Me...thats the first thing off my lips as soon as someone asks me anything-again unless its someone needing a bandaid on a cut...LOL...but I learnt first as a PCT and then in my last semester-the transitions course where you precept under a practicing RN and take on the role of a Nurse-that you really, truely do need to "cover your @sz"...CYA because you will be held liable for what you say and do...even as a nursing student. Just always remember...CYA...CYA...thats why you will find most practicing RN's do NOT tell people they are a Nurse...


Specializes in Pediatric Private Duty. Has 2 years experience.

My favorite is when people tell you really gross things that you don't want to know about your family/friends bodies but preface it with "Well, you're a nurse so..."

la_chica_suerte85, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

I wouldn't even think about opening that can of worms. It's the most frustrating undertaking -- you're going to have tons of pts ignore your teaching and instructions on how to not have complications from their conditions and continue to get worse. No need to take that on with people close to you. Besides, you're not going to know that much off the bat to be telling anyone anything. Leave that to their primary care physicians and specialists. You're just a student.

My problem is people asking me when I do not wish to discuss it with them (i.e. drug interactions, should they take a medication, etc. etc.). It drives me bonkers. I'm only done with year 1 out of 3. I am definitely not in the way of being able to give competent teaching (teaching NOT advice). So, it's definitely annoying.

My favorite is when people tell you really gross things that you don't want to know about your family/friends bodies but preface it with "Well, you're a nurse so..."

Hahahahaha! :lol2: Exactly, BeetleBug. TMI right? :nono: Just TMI. lol

My all time favorite "it hurts when I do this", favorite answer "then don't do that", followed with maybe you should see the doc about that.

... Guy wearing his scrubs in front of me in line today was "trapped" listening to the cashier telling him all about his complex heart condition. I noticed the scrubs said "Blood donation center" of some sort, and I was laughing to myself like the cashier thought the guy was a cardiologist or something. Lol. He was very patient to the cashier & listened intently to the details of the heart surgery. Anyway, made me think of this post, lol. I cant wait to work in healthcare, so exciting :nurse: