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Patients talking politics to me...

Nurses   (4,400 Views 34 Comments)
by MsBruiser MsBruiser (Member)

8,811 Visitors; 558 Posts

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You are reading page 2 of Patients talking politics to me.... If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

8,811 Visitors; 558 Posts

I like it. It means they're trying to connect with me.

I had a patient today say "Obama ****** on the constitution...he doesn't know this is a Christian nation." That is a connection I can do without...

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OCNRN63 is a RN and specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

53,698 Visitors; 5,978 Posts

This is exactly why I steer clear of these conversations. The climate has gotten so overheated on both sides that I find it is much better to be neutral and steer the conversation to something less likely to cause controversy. I have had people hand me all sorts of political propaganda. I politely accept it but it doesn't mean I read it. I'll thank them for thinking of me but that's as far as the conversation goes. Same thing goes for religious conversations. I'd rather spend what little one on one time I have with a patient trying to do education than getting embroiled in controversy.

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AprilRNurse has 3 years experience and specializes in Med/surg, rural CCU.

3,574 Visitors; 186 Posts

I just chuckle with a bright smile and tell them I've learned politics are not a safe topic until I know someone better. Then I follow up with "that doesn't mean I disagree though".... they always seem to assume I agree.. but I didn't say that.

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BluegrassRN has 14 years experience.

21,553 Visitors; 1,188 Posts

I usually just redirect the conversation to their health. I'm in acute care, so that's probably a bit easier than in a less acute setting.

If they are referring to someone on TV or the radio, I just usually respond with something along the lines "I don't watch TV/listen to that station. Are you having any chest pain, shortness of breath, or cough?"

I don't want to discuss politics with patients, whether I agree with them or not. The only time I say something is when they've overstepped the bounds of decency, and I'll set some boundaries there whether their comments are political in nature or not. I'm not going to listen to sexually harassing, homophobic, racist, or other completely unacceptable, disrespectful comments.

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8,383 Visitors; 839 Posts

Same or I just tell them straight out that "I do not feel comfortable talking about politics while I am at practicum." I had a patient once who had values I do not share; I made the mistake telling him that I do not hold the same values and afterwards there was an awkward tension between us. What I said was not bad but I really did not like being preached at. There's always place and time for those types of discussions just not in the hospital setting where one is trying to work and/or learning.

Yeah, it's awkward. I, personally, wouldn't even want to discuss politics if I was in the hospital, but, then again, I'd refuse to be an inpatient unless I was on death's door. ;)

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Zookeeper3 has 17 years experience and specializes in ICU, ER, EP,.

11,021 Visitors; 1,361 Posts

What's a good way to put an end to a patient wanting to talk politics? At present, I just ignore whatever they say. The silence always does the trick...wondering if there is a better way to handle this.

"I'm sorry, but I don't discuss politics at work, Is there anything else I can provide for you right now for your comfort?"

end of story, never, ever do it.... especially if they seem to be on my same page... learned that one quickly.. Now we have a conflict of interest and it gets ugly.

politics are NEVER EVER discussed at work, unless at break time with a peer that you are sure, sure has the same as you, and that is slippery at best.

Simply ... "no, I can't discuss that". end of story

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Zookeeper3 has 17 years experience and specializes in ICU, ER, EP,.

11,021 Visitors; 1,361 Posts

I like it. It means they're trying to connect with me.

Lol, I'd love to hear the conversations that ensue that are not acceptable to forming a relationship with your patient.

 

To me... I can get this at home, at work, gets my assignment changed at best, a complaint against me, more likely. I stay clear of it... but you have your fun. You'll pay for it. There are many more appropriate ways to interact with my patients than politics. You may find that.

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1,920 Visitors; 91 Posts

Nursing isn't about you its about the patient. No matter what the patient says I always frame the conversation in a flattering light (agreement) if I can. If I personally agree with waht the patient thinks/says I will be more emphatic (e.g. if the topic is say, 80s music then I will be more lively than if the topic is something I dont give a **** about like sports)... but I always give feedback that I agree, nonverbal or verbal. If you don't agree with your patients political views find something about them you do agree on. If he's ridiculously right wing just nod in agreement that taxes are too high (they are, aren't they) and if he's ridiculously left wing you can agree that there isn't enough support for the people or whatever it is ...

Basically don't be so literal, find an aspect of the conversation you DO agree with. Nothing is absolute, even if you hate our president there must be something you don't like about him... even if you hated the previous administration there must be something about it that was positive, focus on what the patient thinks.

I mean don't lie and pretend to think things you dont... but the patients room is totally not the place to get into a debate. Part of your job is to make them feel good, supported, safe... argument is hostile and threatening and completely inappropriate.

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1,920 Visitors; 91 Posts

I mean, if I have a manic patient who is rambling about religion, I don't say to them "God doesn't exist you idiot". I smile and agree and try to keep them calm.

If I have a sane patient who is hyperreligious, I smile and nod about the word of god.

Do people really get into fights with patients about religion and politics? That's sorta crazy, you shouldn't be a nurse if you are so unable to see things from another person's perspective IMO, it's kinda a core skill of any halfway decent nurse to be able to put yourself aside and focus on someone else.

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1 Follower; 1 Article; 37,492 Visitors; 4,383 Posts

Generally smile and nod, maybe a "yep." I'm the wrong color for my state (as in red and blue.) So 99 times out of 100, they're spouting off things I think are downright stupid. But I'll smile and nod as much as I can. If they're getting really offensive, then I just stay quiet.

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sandyteele specializes in ICU, PACU,TRAUMA, SICU.

1,570 Visitors; 11 Posts

I appreciate patients opening up to me about their viewpoints, feelings and anxieties about medical and non- medical issues. It almost seems as a nurse, people feel an increased comfort level with us, ..a trusted professional who truly cares about your wellbeing.

While I routinely take this opportunity to create a calming, and reassuring environment for the patient, it gives us a golden window of opportunity to really reach out to patients and perhaps make a difference in their lives through the art of conversation.

Talking about uncomfortable subjects, such as politics may be looked upon as impolite in the non-health care sector... You wouldn't go up to a bank teller and start talking about politics, would you? But, you can use this opportunity as a segway for teaching, and trust building. Silence is never a good practice, it doesn't accomplish anything. It tells them "I'm ignoring you." Not very therapeutic. Turn around this need to communicate from patients and steer the conversation to their educational needs. If they just want to vent due to anxiety, by just listening to them may help them to feel important in a sometimes cold and impersonal health care system.

Of course you shouldn't tolerate any verbal/physical abusiveness, know your own boundaries. Communication, is a very human need that can help the patient in the long run. Your comfort level in practicing communication in different circumstances will increase with time. Good luck!

Edited by sandyteele

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8,383 Visitors; 839 Posts

Do people really get into fights with patients about religion and politics? That's sorta crazy, you shouldn't be a nurse if you are so unable to see things from another person's perspective IMO, it's kinda a core skill of any halfway decent nurse to be able to put yourself aside and focus on someone else.

I don't know. Do you always assume the extreme even though it's not stated? I'm pretty sure just about everyone said the nod and agree with the pt or stay silent unless the view point is extreme. No one said anything about getting into "fights" with patients.

I'm sorry, but if I have an awake and oriented person, who's telling me he's glad he doesn't have "one of those N***** for his nurse, and that those [blank] should be sent back to Africa, etc, etc" I'm not going to smile and nod. I'm also not going to argue with him, but I will NOT let him think that I agree with him.

If you're fine with that, then that's on you, I guess.

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