Tips for Nurses with Difficult Patients

Tips for Nurses with Difficult Patients

Tips for Nurses with Difficult Patients

There are all sorts of factors that contribute to making a person cranky. Maybe they’ve had a bad day. Maybe they have low blood sugar. Maybe they’re scared. Or maybe that’s just their personality. As a nurse, you’ll run into difficult patients from time to time—just like any other job with human interaction.

And it makes sense. Your patients don’t want to be in a hospital—they’re already feeling inconvenienced, their injury or illness is a major factor, and most of them are probably scared. For many such patients, politeness is probably far from the top of their priority list.

Is that an excuse for rudeness? Of course not. But they’re still your patient, and just because they aren’t at their best doesn’t mean you can’t be yours.

Check Yourself – Your patient may not even be that difficult. It might be you. Before assigning any blame to your patient, make sure that you have yourself under control. If you’re feeling stressed, or dealing with something tough at home, or just missed breakfast that day, you may be projecting some of your issues onto your patient. Make sure you’ve taken care of yourself first so that all your patient interactions begin from a calm, balanced place.

Remain Calm – Patients may snap or snark, but rarely are they actually upset with you. It’s tough but do your best not to take their reactions personally and try your best to understand where they’re coming from. Take pauses, take breaths, and focus on doing what you can to help.

Listen and Repeat – One of the biggest triggers for a scared patient is the fear that he or she isn’t being heard, so make sure to listen closely, especially for the patients who seem irate. And let them know that you’ve heard them by repeating back the information they’ve shared. Sometimes, just knowing that someone has listened is enough to not only calm a patient, but it may just win them over to your side for good.

Avoid Subtle Pushback – It’s hard not to get defensive when someone is being unreasonable or obtuse, but pushing back typically just reinforces their behavior. Watch your body language for subtle signs of hostility (avoiding eye contact, crossing arms, etc.). And watch your language as well for anything that might be taken as confrontational.

Set Boundaries – Of course, there are lines that difficult patients simply can’t be allowed to cross, and you should have those set before you enter the room. If your patient begins shouting or using profanity, for example, have a plan in place to shut down the interaction until they regain control.

Executive medical director Kathleen Bonvicini suggests (during an interview with Nurse.org) that nurses be prepared to say something like “There are certain things that we allow here, and in order to continue to talk to you, you cannot use that language. I will step out of the room for a while to give you time to calm down.”

Show Empathy – More often than not, your patient just wants to know they aren’t alone in their struggles. You may not be dealing with the same challenges as your patient, but take the time to understand the person behind the diagnosis. What must they be feeling, what are their biggest fears, what type of pain must they be experiencing? A little empathy can go a long, long way.

Get Help – Your hospital is full of people who can help you with any type of patient, so if you’re at a loss, call for help! You can choose from hospital social workers, chaplains, counselors, or even other nurses who may have more experience with the challenges your patient is facing. Never feel like you have to shoulder any burden alone. One of the greatest benefits of working as a nurse is joining the healthcare family… it’s a fantastic support network, so use it!

But most important, remember that every patient deserves your best. It’s tempting to want to spend all your time with the sweet, appreciative patients who do nothing but smile and compliment, but even the cranky ones deserve your attention and talents.

And sometimes, it’s the of crankiest patients who wind up being the most grateful in the end. These are often the chances to make the biggest difference, and many times will be the moments you look back on as the most meaningful.

If you are interested in beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, Provo College can help make that dream a reality. Contact us today for more information.

Moving to a Better Nursing Job…Without Burning Bridges

Moving to a Better Nursing Job Without Burning Bridges

Moving to a Better Nursing Job…Without Burning Bridges

You waited and waited for the news, yet it was still a surprise when it came in… the best kind of surprise. The new nursing job to which you’d applied decided that you were an excellent fit for their program. They were offering the works—a salary increase, extra vacation days, even moving expenses—and the potential for adventure in the new city was priceless.

Only one question remained in your mind… what to do about your current job.

This isn’t a rare scenario for nurses. It’s actually fairly common. With nurses in such high demand nationwide, it’s no shock that hospitals across the country are upping their game to attract new talent. And the better you do at your job, the better your chances of moving upward.

But a career in nursing is also a career of relationships. The last thing you want to do is leave a job on a bad note, burning bridges behind you. The ideal situation is one where your current job is sad to see you go but respects your decision enough to help you leave. And navigating this world of professional resignation isn’t all that difficult.

Know the Policies – Two weeks’ notice is probably the most common policy for employers, but every hospital and clinic is different. Check your employee handbook for information on how much notice is required, then make sure you abide by that rule.

Don’t Hide Your Decision – The worst situation is when your manager finds out that you’re leaving… from someone other than you. The moment you know that you will be taking another position, you need to have a discussion with your manager or human resources. Not only does it keep you in good standing, but it gives your current employer a little more time to find your replacement.

Put It in Writing – Your letter of resignation becomes part of your permanent employment record, so give it plenty of thought and polish. Keep it to one (short) page but be sure to include any applicable dates (the date of your verbal notice, your last day of work, etc) plus your reason for leaving (“I’ve accepted a position as _____ at ______”). And it doesn’t hurt to include a brief note of gratitude to your employer as well—after all, they took a chance on you.

Ace the Exit Interview – Most hospital HR departments will have you give an “exit interview” to finalize all the details of your departure. Some use this as a chance to air any lingering frustrations or give a few parting shots at that co-worker who kept eating your lunch but resist the urge to do this. Be courteous, be constructive, be professional, and frame everything from the perspective of wanting to leave your former hospital in better shape than you found it.

Don’t Phone in The Final Weeks – Work just as hard in your final weeks as you did in your first week… harder, if possible. This has two benefits—first, it helps alleviate any lingering guilt you might have about leaving, and second, it shows your managers and co-workers that you really did appreciate the job.

Remember, there’s no telling what changes life has in store for you. You may be leaving for a better nursing job now, but who knows? Maybe an even better position will bring you back one day. And the way you leave now plays a huge part in how you’ll be received then.

Happy hunting!

If you are interested in beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, Provo College can help make that dream a reality. Contact us today for more information.

Nurse Gets Surprise Bedside Pinning Ceremony

Nurse Gets Surprise Bedside Pinning Ceremony

Nurse Gets Surprise Bedside Pinning Ceremony

Julie Harless’s story is one that could have simply been sad and tragic. But Julie spends her days surrounded by nurses, and nurses have a way of turning the tables on tragedy.

A fifty-year-old nurse’s assistant, Julie had finally decided to take the leap and become a nurse herself. For nearly two decades, Julie had worked hand in hand with nurses, and her dream was to one day wear the pin herself. Finally, in 2017, she decided to do something about it.

She enrolled in a local nursing school and began her classes, well on track to achieving her dream. But what came next shocked everyone.

“Last month, she was sitting in class smiling,” said Natalie Robinson, the school’s nursing program coordinator. “This month, she’s in hospice.”

The diagnosis was cancer, and it was anything but benign. Her doctors informed her that she had stage 4 lung and ovarian cancer, as well as cancer in her hip and tailbone. As to be expected with such a serious diagnosis, her condition quickly deteriorated.

The terminal diagnosis was bad enough, but for Julie, the news was doubly bad. Her nursing school graduation would have taken place in 2020, but her doctors doubted she would live that long. She’d waited decades to call herself a nurse, and now it looked as though she’d started towards her dream too late.

That’s when her classmates decided to step in.

“Julie kept saying, ‘Well, all this hard work I’ve done is for nothing.’ We wanted her to know it was worth it,” Robinson said.

So last week, nearly 100 of her friends, family, co-workers, and fellow nursing school students crowded into the halls of Our Lady of Belafonte Hospital, where they surprised Julie with her own pinning ceremony.

“She’s the epitome of what a nurse should be,” clinical instructor Lynn Hill said. “I hope (her classmates) take just a little bit of Julie and strive to become what Julie is.”

Julie’s sister Barb (also a student in the nursing school) has plans to take Lynn’s advice literally and says she’ll wear Julie’s pin during her own 2020 graduation ceremony, as a way of making sure part of Julie still walks across the graduation stage.

Other members of her family were touched and amazed by the outpouring of support, but none were shocked at the impact Julie has had on those around her.

“It was amazing,” said her son, Jordan. “She wanted to be an inspiration to other people to not give up, to keep fighting. She’s a very strong and amazing person.”

As a nurse’s assistant, Julie touched thousands of lives. As a nursing school student, she touched even more. And if this past week is any indication, her example and spirit will live on for decades more in the work of brothers and sisters in scrubs.

If you are interested in beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, Provo College can help make that dream a reality. Contact us today for more information.

Nurse Saves Her Own Life With Self-Diagnosis

Nurse Saves Her Own Life with Self-Diagnosis

Nurse Saves Her Own Life With Self-Diagnosis

For nurses (or those training to become a nurse), most of your skills are focused on helping your patients… and rightfully so. But there’s another significant advantage to the training… the many ways in which you can help yourself.

Understanding healthcare, the importance of healthy habits, and the need for regular “healthy you” checkups are just a few of the benefits your nurse’s training includes, all of which are very important in maintaining your health. But an additional benefit of your training is knowing the red flags that could signal a life-or-death health situation.

Such was the case for 25-year-old Katie Barber, a nurse from Long Island, New York, whose ability to recognize warning signs in her own body wound up saving her life.

It all began when an old hip injury from her teens began flaring up again, making it difficult to do her rounds. Wisely, she decided to have the problem checked out.

“About a year ago, I noticed I was having severe hip pain, and a CT scan revealed I had a torn labrum in my right hip,” she said. “My orthopedic surgeon felt that, over time, bone degeneration led to wear and tear injury of my right labrum.”

A surgery was scheduled, followed by bed rest for two weeks. But it was when she started experiencing shortness of breath during physical therapy that she began suspecting something might not be right.

“Being a nurse, I started to wonder if this could be deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE),” she recalls. “I never thought something like this would happen to me, but I went to the hospital just to be safe. Well, I’m glad I went because it turns out I had a right leg DVT with bilateral PEs.”

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is caused by a blood clot in one of the body’s deep veins, and according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, DVT can often follow surgeries in the hip region, such as Katie’s. The condition can easily become fatal if the clot travels or can cause permanent vein damage if the clot remains.

Fortunately, Katie’s training and experience as a nurse had prepared her—not only to spot the warning signs prior to diagnosis, but what to expect next during the treatment. Follow up tests revealed that she had a clotting disorder, but the problem didn’t stop there. She began to notice dizzy spells throughout the day, sometimes so severe she had trouble getting out of bed. This, she knew, was another red flag, and one that needed to be addressed immediately.

“I was weak and couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes at a time. In September 2018, I went to the hospital and was found to have an abnormal heart rate, later diagnosed as a junctional rhythm. I was kept in the hospital for eight days receiving IVs due to low blood pressure. The next day, I developed chest pain and difficulty breathing. A chest X-ray revealed fluid in my lungs, requiring oxygen for a few days.”

The issue was a heart condition known as junctional rhythm, and the solution—a pacemaker. For most 25-year-olds, the idea of a pacemaker can easily be terrifying. The device is typically associated with senior citizens. But as a nurse who works a cardiac unit, Katie not only understood that many younger patients are given pacemakers, but that receiving one was vital to keeping her alive.

“As a cardiac ICU nurse, I’m accustomed to seeing patients with pacemakers,” she said. “Most are much older, but there are a fair share of younger patients also needing these devices. It seems that more people without formal training don’t understand the purpose of pacemakers, and more importantly, the normal lifestyle that one can give.”

And good news—after receiving the pacemaker, Katie reports that she’s already noticed more energy and the dizzy spells have disappeared. What could have been a medical tragedy ended positively, with Katie back in scrubs and treating her patients—all thanks to her nurse’s training and her wise decision not to ignore warning signs.

If you are interested in beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, Provo College can help make that dream a reality. Contact us today for more information.