Anxious patient taught me to listen, explain and reassure
Some people are nervous before surgery, so put them at ease by being clear and working at their pace, says student Marleny Rodriguez Cari.
Some people are nervous before surgery, so put them at ease by being clear and working at their pace, says student Marleny Rodriguez Cari
In my second year as a nursing student I worked in an adult surgical unit, where I admitted a female patient with anxiety and depression, who was having a tonsillectomy.
I noticed she seemed anxious, as her hands were shaking. It is important to take into account the patient's needs and be caring and compassionate, as some people can be nervous before a surgical procedure. The fact they are in an unfamiliar environment, and going to theatre for the first time, can be a lot for some people to comprehend. When I asked the patient if she was feeling okay, she said she wanted to go home as soon as possible.
To make her feel at ease, I explained in more detail what I was going to do and asked her if it was okay for me to continue. As part of her admission I had to do clinical observations such as temperature, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels. When I attempted to measure her oxygen levels, she seemed reluctant for me to carry on so I stopped immediately and asked her if she wanted me to do it later. I chatted to her for a while to build up a rapport and after some reassurance she gave me her consent.
'Some patients will need extra time as they might have a learning difficulty or mental health problem'
I described what I was doing with the pulse oximeter and went through it step by step. I talked to her slowly and clearly, which appeared to calm her down. I explained what the normal ranges were and informed her that her vital signs were fine.
Ask for consent
It is crucial that nursing students take a holistic approach to patients' needs at all times.
Caring for this person helped me gain knowledge about how to deal with anxious patients. I realised I need to make them feel welcome, be empathetic, listen to their concerns and provide clear explanations.
I am also aware that some patients will need extra time as they might have a learning difficulty or mental health problem, so it is important to adjust communication accordingly.
When patients are feeling ill they are in a vulnerable position so I need to safeguard them by protecting their privacy and dignity. Moreover, I need to empower them by allowing them to participate in their own care and treatment. This includes gaining their consent before any procedure and stopping if they don't feel comfortable with it.
Marleny Rodriguez Cari is a third-year adult nursing student at Birmingham City University