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.