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SarahKixRN BSN, RN

Nurse Writer, Experienced RN in PACU & ICU
New New Innovator
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SarahKixRN has 18 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Nurse Writer, Experienced RN in PACU & ICU.

As a Nurse Writer, I create content to attract consumers for the healthcare industry as well as provide education.  With a BSN &18 years of nursing under my belt, I can deliver accurate, high-quality work plus use my experience and knowledge for added value.  I am proficient in AP format and produce content such as blog articles, infographics, and e-books.  

Post op Pain Management.docx

SarahKixRN's Latest Activity

  1. SarahKixRN

    The Art of Empathy

    We all learn in nursing school the concept of having empathy for our patients. It is one of the most widely taught codes of conduct in the nursing profession. It is also one of the most forgotten skills when a nurse is burned out or overworked. Showing empathy is a system that can be put into effect even when we are in low spirits. The American Heritage Dictionary defined empathy well by saying it is “the ability to identify with or understand the perspective, experiences, or motivations of another individual or to comprehend and share another individual’s emotional state.” By doing this, we allow the patient to feel understood and therefore better, no matter the circumstance. Whether or not you can do this, the patient has no idea. In order for them to feel understood and for you to acquire rapport faster, you need to show empathy for them. This will result in a patient with more compliance, more patience, and overall improved mental wellbeing. Showing Empathy Through Facial Gestures and Body Language Today, COVID has put a huge damper on nurse-patient communication as nonverbal cues are mostly hidden behind a mask. What the patient can see are the eyes, the forehead, and part of the cheeks. These are your tools to generate a happier, more compliant patient through facial gestures. Make eye contact Be engaged into their eyes, even if just for a couple of seconds. During this moment, erase your lousy mood. Only peace comes through your eyes. This makes a world of difference for the patient as this alone will give them a sense of being tended to. As they say, the eyes are the windows to one’s soul. Smile big A fake, forced smile only activates a couple of cheek muscles whereas a “true smile is triggered by... the brain stem, causing muscles to lift and contract all over the face.” The patient will notice your eyes crinkle and your cheeks rise giving truth to you as a whole. Open your body, touch As you are working with your patient, trust and communication enhance when your body is open towards them. When appropriate, have your body turned toward them, your shoulders open, drawing a line from your shoulders to each lateral edge of your patient. Now you are physically engaged. An added touch (as appropriate) can calm a person and show you are being empathetic. A simple touch on their shoulder can make a nurse-patient relationship soar. Showing Empathy Through Language and Speech There are many tactics that can be used in your speech when it comes to applying empathy. Nurses know many ways, such as using open-ended questions and providing time for the patient to chat. We should use respectful words and avoid labels like “the diabetic” or “the fresh heart.” A lot of times, empathy can be used to fizzle out conflict. Listen to the patient and voice your understanding. If they are upset, let them explain and avoid blame. Offer to solve the issue. Ask, “What can I do for you?” Now is their chance to tell you exactly what they need, providing insight and encouraging a calm environment. Even your tone of voice can be helpful. As you are saying your words, ending a sentence with an abrupt finish can indicate having a short temper or impatience. Try ending your sentence with a rising tone on the last word. This gives the impression you are talking to them with sincerity and patience. Think of a phrase you say often and say it with a short stop with the last word. Now say the same phrase, only with the rising tone at the end of the last word. It makes a big difference and is very handy if you are finding yourself being unintentionally grumpy with your patient. Be Mindful and Take that Extra Step Listen Listening to your patient is one of the biggest ways to show empathy. Active listening involves paying attention to what is said. Sit next to them or be at their level. Verbalize back your understanding. Perhaps share a relatable story. Listening and allowing yourself to relate will help you better understand you patient and provide higher quality care for them. Be aware of the surroundings and the patient As nurses, we walk into a patient’s room and immediately begin assessing. Do they look comfortable? What is their body position? Facial expressions. Purposefully scan the room. Is anything out of place, out of reach. Are there any odd smells or sounds? All these thoughts are empathetic. Do not judge Judging will erase empathy. Instead, put yourself in their shoes. How did this patient become addicted to heavy narcotics? Be conscientious of the fact that usually the patient didn’t mean to become addicted and, a lot of times, have gone through very rough experiences to get to this point. Involve others Use others to your patient’s advantage. Family members and friends can be great contributors to building empathy for your patient. The interaction between them and the patient can show you more insight as to how the patient is feeling and how their experience is going. The presence of the visitor can allow the patient to relax and show more of their feelings. Bringing out their tucked-away feelings can introduce issues that may need your attention. It may seem like a pain but once the issue is resolved, the patient’s situation is improved, and you and the patient have a stronger relationship. Take action Action speaks louder than words. Address your patient’s concerns and carry out the tasks. Blend in other tools of empathy (such as the ones listed above) and the art of empathy can form. Keep your plans reasonable, add new tools when ready, and integrate them within your daily routine. These actions should become second nature as you continue actively showing empathy so don’t overwork yourself to achieve this. Yes, this is basic Nursing 101 however, it is a primary part of empathy development. Showing empathy generates rapport quickly. The more you use these tactics, the more empathetic you will become. It will solve problems for you quicker, improve patient outcome, and make your job easier. The art of empathy can begin with just a smile. References Definition of Empathy The Hippocratic Post: What’s in a smile? Effect of Face Masks on Interpersonal Communication During the COVID-19 Pandemic How to Show Empathy
  2. Cell phones have changed the way we function on a day-to-day basis, affecting everything we do. We have constant access to any information or person we need (or think we need). So, what about using personal cell phones by nurses at work? They can be helpful, or they can cause problems. Depending on how you use your phone can determine its appropriateness. Most hospitals, care facilities, and clinics have policies in place that state what is allowed in certain locations such as at the nurse’s station or at the patient’s bedside. I’m sure we can agree, personal phone use is inappropriate at the bedside. Proper channels should be used through the facility when shared information contains patient details (like notifying a doctor about a blood sugar result). Using the cell at the nurse’s station has more of a grey area. I took a poll on a social media platform for nurses asking if the nurse's station is a part of the patient care area (either opinion or work policy). Eighty-nine out of 100 nurses said “No,” it is not. Another poll I hosted reported that the vast majority of nursing jobs allow personal phones at the nurse’s station (94/117 votes). So, if the nurse’s station is acceptable for personal cell use, what could this mean for patients? Why is it OK? We all have lives. Many of us are busy with kids, sports, daily errands, appointments, house chores, etc. Having our phone near is quite handy to organize our schedule at any moment. Everyone can reach you, thank goodness. Google and other apps are useful resources. How often do we as nurses look up unfamiliar medications or medical conditions? The cell phone makes learning about a patient’s condition a snap. Keep in mind, using the internet for how-tos on care procedures (such as a dressing change) is a no-no as this should be learned in school, in-house training or from an experienced colleague. Please refer to your facility’s policies and educational resources. Communication is crucial in our profession. A cell phone is super handy to message our coworkers quickly to save time and increase work efficiency. For example, a circulating RN could message Preop to have the next patient ready to go with a few quick taps. Make sure these tactics are cleared by your supervisor before implementing them. Why is it not OK? Cell phones use can be a hazardous distraction. When you are on your phone for personal reasons, you are not providing any patient care. In fact, you are mentally not even at work. This lack of attention will lead to harmful occurrences such as errors, injuries and neglect. Poor time management and poor response time can also occur as you are unaware of your surroundings. If you’re shopping for new work shoes online, you might forget that the nurse aid told you she put your patient on the commode and went to lunch 20 minutes ago. “Oh, is that my patient’s call light?” Risk of infection. Simply put, our phones are covered in bacteria like a petri dish. At least we are rockstars at handwashing but how many of us wipe down our personal phones? Risk of security breaching. While texting with other nurses, doctors, aids, etc., we must be sure to avoid using any patient identification information and remain respectful. It is vital we actively protect our patient’s privacy. Social media platforms showcase medical professionals taking pics and videos at the workplace all the time, but mistakes can easily be made (like a computer screen photo bomb with patient information all over it). The more we do it, the more chances a breach will occur. Old fashion unprofessionalism. A family member walks up to the station looking for her father’s nurse and finds the nurse on her cell phone laughing at a funny cat meme. Her father is unresponsive on a ventilator, and she has been crying at his side for the last hour. Even though the nurse was looking at something not related to work for just a couple of minutes, that daughter is now upset and feels her father is not being cared for adequately. This may be untrue, but the cell phone gives the appearance of poor nursing care and a lack of professionalism. So is it OK or not? Whether to use your phone at any given time at work boils down to asking yourself, “Is it safe? Is it smart? Is it professional?” Cell phones are a part of our daily lives, and our institutions understand this fact. We as professionals should know when to put the phone down or just put it away. Here are some tips on ways to use the phone appropriately: Take a break! Officially step away for a moment. This is a perfect time to check on emails, messages, or have a quick brain break by scrolling through social media. Don’t be in sight of family/patients. Sitting at the front desk, you are the first face people will see. Don’t be on your phone playing a game (break or not). Vow to only use the phone for emergencies or for job-related reasons, such as looking up a new med on the market. Keep it in your work locker or bag. Don’t leave it sitting out to use at free will. That’s just asking for misuse. Above all, the patients come first. If the use of the phone is not improving the patient’s care in any way, then the use is inappropriate. We nurses deserve breaks and time to ourselves. But when we’re working, we’re working. When in doubt, put the phone away. References The Pros and Cons of Smartphone Use by Nurses on Duty Are Cell Phones Helping or Harming Your Patients?