Building rapport with our patients

Last week I attended a conference on leadership in nursing. As a nurse not currently in a leadership position, I felt a little out of place. The early part of the conference focused on things like engagement surveys and other data points that Press Gainey uses to come up with patient and nurse satisfaction, basically, a lot of things that sort of went over my head. I saw lots of the nurse managers nodding and discussing. I’ll pass. I am not really someone that is big into data points and graphs.

One of the speakers from the second half of the conference shared information that really stuck with me. His presentation focused on building rapport with people, especially our patients. He began by talking about active listening and why we suck at it. According to information he presented, the average person speaks 125 words a minute. That blew my mind! 125 words seems like so much! He presented another point: our minds think far faster than that, that is why we suck at active listening. Our brains are moving too fast and we get to a point where we are no longer listening to understand, we are listening to respond. Makes sense, right?

He instead told us to listen for three things from the patient you are speaking to:

  1. Values- what in this conversation is most important to the individual?
  2. Hopes- what does the individual hope to gain from this conversation?
  3. Fears- what, if anything, is the individual afraid of?

Being able to touch on those three things in a convo with a patient can make them feel much more at ease. This shows the patient you were actively listening to what they had to say and that you were actually engaged in the conversation. That is the feeling I strive to give to my patients. I want my patients to feel like I care when we are talking. Sometimes, all a “difficult” patient needs is someone to take the time to listen to their concerns. Whenever I can, I try to be that person.

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My first nursing convention

By the time this blog posts I will have gone to my first nursing “convention”. It’s a one-day event sponsored by my hospital but it is a whole day of speakers and learning related to leadership in nursing.

It’s actually meant for nurses already in a leadership positions but being a leader is something that interests me and I would like all the help I can get. I want to become someone that other nurses can look up to. While I don’t really plan on managing a unit or anything like that, I do plan on obtaining an advanced practice degree and I want to be a leader in whatever field I decide to go into. I have worked with and under great leaders and I have worked with people in leadership that I wanted to stab in the eye with a pencil (I have been a mental serial killer quite a few times!) I don’t want to be the person that someone else wants to stab in the eye lol!

I don’t feel like leadership=management position. Leadership, in my opinion anyway, has more to do with the person and less to do with the position. Some of my coworkers have been amazing leaders. Whether we have two codes going on simultaneously, admissions and discharges back to back, a super sick patient that is trying their damnest to circle the drain, or my personal fave: the wife and girlfriend trying to visit the trauma patient, there have been nurses that I worked with that immediately jumped in. They took the lead in the situation and helped turn chaos into control. I will say that in my experience most of those in management would have floundered in those very same situations. If you think about it, it is far easier to manage people than it is to lead them. You can’t be a leader while simultaneously saying “do as I say, not as I do”. At that point, a bad precedent has been set. I feel like a leader is going to search for the right way to do things and if they don’t know the correct way, they have no problem asking others for help. Leaders can provide positive feedback but also know how to provide constructive criticisms. The managers I have typically come across seem to be able to do one or the other, rarely both. That’s not to say I haven’t worked with management that wasn’t super badass. I will never forget one manager, Ron. He seemed so intimidating until I actually had to escalate a situation up to him. Long story short, I was working under “leadership” that wanted to be on a friendly basis with the team instead of lead the team. A certain situation continued to occur that ended up slowing patient flow. The supervisor didn’t want to step in because they didn’t want to hurt feelings. Well, you know me, I escalated beyond them to management. I remember exactly what he said to me when I walked into his office to complain “Shaunelle, don’t come to me with a problem without a solution.” We spoke and surprisingly I had a solution in my head without even realizing it.

His words changed how I handle situations to this day.

To me, that’s leadership. I want to be like that one day. I want to be able to not only provide solutions for my team, I want to encourage others to find solutions for themselves. So, off to the nursing conference I go. Hopefully next week I can come back and share some of what I learned.

Decisions

I think I finally made my decision about going back to school. I completed my bachelor’s degree last year and have been on the fence about getting my master’s degree. Is it worth it? What path should I take? I just couldn’t make a decision.

I think I know what I am going to do. I’m going back to school.

At first, I planned on either following an education or leadership path. I think that is going to change. I’m going to try to get into a nurse practitioners program.

After talking to lots of other nurses that are currently in school, nurses with their master’s degree already, and lots of research, I realize my career path is far more flexible if I have my advance practice degree.

I think I stayed away from the idea of an NP program because I had a very narrow idea of what nurse practitioners can do.

My views are changing. Being around a lot of wonderful NP’S in my career had shown me they do a whole hell of a lot. NP’S make a difference. I want to make a difference. I think I’m going to really give this a shot…

Almost on time

We have all worked with that one nurse that is almost but not quite on time. You know the one, they come in about 5-10 minutes late, they still need to go put all their stuff away, they still need to get their coffee (or they come in with their Starbucks cup and now you know why they are late), they need to get their report sheet, they stop and talk to other people, and they need a moment to complain about their assignment. It’s like 7:15 before they get to you. Meanwhile, you just had the shift from Hell, missed lunch because your patient couldn’t decide if they were ready to die or not, and you just want to go home.

That nurse drives me nuts!

I hate being late to work (though I am late just about anywhere else) because I know someone is waiting for me to arrive. I just think it’s rude. I do understand, however, that crap happens and sometimes being on time is just not on the menu that day. I get it, really I do. But that one nurse that can never seem to make it on time? Yeah, I don’t get that. I also don’t understand how they can walk in late and then still take their time getting report!

Yeah, no.

There are ways to deal with nurses like that.

When I knew I would be giving report to a certain nurse I would go ahead and write my report out. I mean, I would write a report that my nursing instructor would be proud of. As soon as they came rolling in (10 minutes late of course) I would catch them. “Hey I wrote out my report, I will be in the break room getting my stuff if you have any questions.” This was typically met with a blank stare but I really didn’t care. Now, I didn’t do this with every nurse that was running late, just the one(s) that I know are like the one I described above. I dont have time for the foolishness!

If I didn’t write out report I still caught them as soon as they made it onto the floor. No they aren’t stopping and talking to another nurse. No they aren’t going to stand and complain about their assignment. No I don’t want to hear about why they were late (yet again) this time. Not today buddy! When they hit that floor they are ready to go in my eyes and I am walking up, cutting right into whatever nonsense conversation they are having, and letting them know I am ready to give report. Glare, stare, I don’t care. I am done with my shift and it’s time for me to go.

If you are that nurse, the one that strolls in late and then takes your time coming to get report, I hope you finally get written up. I hope one of your tires is flat when you get off work. I hope Starbucks runs out of every flavor of coffee that you like. I hope that your patient has to has every scan possible and you have to travel from procedure to procedure all day. I hope your new admision is a hot mess.

Oh, and I am not back so you are going to have to give report to a whole new person…

Yep, I’m petty like that.