Advice and development

Hello, how are you? What can I do to help?

As a nursing student, approaching a patient for the first time can be nerve-racking. Not only will you be conscious of the need to be professional, you will be aware of your status as a student and your lack of experience when communicating with patients.

As a nursing student, approaching a patient for the first time can be nerve-racking. Not only will you be conscious of the need to be professional, you will be aware of your status as a student and your lack of experience when communicating with patients.

But remember – because you are a student, hospital staff will not expect miracles from you. It is okay to not know everything, and it is definitely okay to ask questions.

Your placement is intended for you to consolidate the things you have learned in lectures and experience the everyday situations that arise in a hospital. Therefore, if you are not asking questions, you are probably not learning everything you need to know.

It can be a different matter when dealing with patients, though. When you approach them for the first time, you might worry about how to be professional and reassure them that they are in safe hands.

And not everyone is the same – your patient could be aggressive or have dementia, but you still need to be able to communicate effectively with them.

By remembering two simple steps, you can make the initial meeting easier for both yourself and the patient.

It might seem obvious, but introducing yourself and your role will open up many more opportunities than sheepishly walking across and performing a task in silence.

Many patients feel intimidated by doctors and nurses, who can be unintentionally brusque at times. So although you might not be able to answer all their questions, as a student you are in a great position to make a difference simply by chatting to them – especially if they are upset.

The same can apply to relatives, who may be waiting for news about a loved one. They might be emotional and have lots of questions, so you may not feel like the best person for them to talk to. But they probably would much rather talk through their concerns with you than sit worrying while waiting for a qualified member of staff.

When carrying out any tasks on patients, it is vital that you explain what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and what you hope to achieve. Patients may already be feeling anxious and if they are unsure why you have approached them, you risk making them more worried.

This step is particularly crucial if you are dealing with vulnerable patients, such as children or older people. If you are training to be a children’s nurse, your actions at this stage are important. A bad experience as a child can lead to a lifelong fear of hospitals.

If you can see a child is scared, show them there is nothing to worry about. Try to distract them by making it fun and encouraging their inquisitive side and they probably won’t even notice what you are doing.

If you are particularly worried about a child, seek the advice of a more senior member of staff. They may not be able to help immediately, but they will be able to give you resources to deal with the situation yourself – and will be impressed by your initiative.

Nursing involves some tough tasks, but good nurses know how to put patients at their ease while ensuring they receive the best care.

Communication Skills for Nurses by Janet Dare

Campaign to remind healthcare professionals about introductions hellomynameis.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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