As a professional nurse, you probably come across a number of awkward situations and people in a full day’s work that sometimes a slip-of-the-tongue just happens. But that’s still no excuse because you pretty much knew what you were getting into before signing up for the job.
Nursing is a career that requires as much verbal control as a sound understanding of performing medical tasks without bringing about too much discomfort to a patent both on a physical and emotional level. Here are five don’ts that you as a professional nurse must not let slip out of your mouth to make the patient you’re looking after feel uncomfortable.
1. “I don’t know; that’s what the doctor said.”
This is the biggest and most annoying mistake of them all. Knowing what the physician has planned as a part of a treatment for a patient that you and the physician are collaborating on is actually part of a nurse’s job description–there’s no other way around that. And not knowing what the physician has planned not only brings your ignorance as a nurse out in the open, but it also diminishes your value within the health care system. So make sure that you fully understand what the physician has planned and try to have your queries answered before you face the patent when the physician isn’t around to avoid a rather awkward confrontation and being misjudged.
2. “I haven’t done this before, but don’t worry.”
And after hearing that, most probably every patient will respond with something in the likes of “Then maybe you shouldn’t” because you probably have given them every reason to be worried with just those few words. If you’ve been asked to perform a particular medical task for the first time, the last thing that you should be doing is making the patient feel insecure because that way he or she may just begin to doubt the quality of the service being provided within the health care system. Imagine a mom taking her kid for a flu vaccination and you utter those words. She’ll definitely not be risking her kid in your lap. Although providing better pediatric health care is not that difficult and bears the lowest risk, you should still get into the shoes of a mother. What you need to do is prepare yourself by reviewing guidelines and policies, and bringing in a more experienced nurse for assistance. And yes, don’t worry–there’s always a first time for everyone.
3. “They don’t treat nurses well here.”
Well, after taking into account the fact that nursing pays more than just well, that’s probably a lie. And even if it isn’t, it’s rather unprofessional on your part to rant about the shortcomings of the health care system you work in front of the patients you’re looking after. Patients generally look at the nurses attending to them as an extension of the quality and the services the entire health care system provides. Trashing the system pretty much equates to trashing the credibility of the entire system as well as your own; and this is something you wouldn’t want to do, would you?
4. “I don’t know why you’re on these meds.”
Much like being completely ignorant to what the physician has planned for the patient, not knowing why the patient is being given a particular medicine (or more) can actually turn out to become a matter of life and death; you wouldn’t want to give someone dehydrated due to food poisoning more diuretics to completely drain them out, or send the blood pressure of a patient who’s already experiencing high pressure off the charts also by giving them the wrong pills. To avoid unwarranted drama, know the medicines and know why the patient needs them; patients never stop asking questions and doing your job right never hurts.
5. “You don’t have much time left.”
Now why would you even do that? You’re not the bearer of bad news! Let’s just say that there are some things that physicians are simply better at conveying to the patient than a nurse. Physicians almost always have a scientifically logical explanation ready at the tip of their tongue to handle such a situation, so let them share that part of the really bad news.