I haven’t really talked much on here about being a nurse, but I thought today’s as good a day as any. I work part-time in a surgery center where I get patients ready for their surgeries. Being a nurse for 11 years has given me the opportunity to take care of quite a few patients. And because of that, I feel like I have a duty to help patients be the best they can be.
So in case any of you find yourself going in for surgery, here are a few etiquette tips to help you be a star patient:
- Don’t be on your phone—If a nurse, or someone providing patient care, is going over your medical history with you, please pause your Candy Crush game and give them some eye contact. Oh, and try not to text while they’re talking to you. Especially don’t text about them while they’re talking to you. That will make you awesome.
- Always brush your teeth before you come—This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised. When we tell you nothing to eat or drink before surgery, this does not include teeth brushing. Just swish and spit. No need to swallow. This goes for bathing as well. If you’re going to be getting in a backless gown that covers about as much as a hand towel with nothing underneath, let’s go ahead and make bathing a priority. Just close your mouth in the shower. I tried it once…it was pretty easy.
- Wait until the nurse leaves the room before you begin putting your gown on—I know the gowns don’t cover much anyway, but this doesn’t mean we want to see the Full Monty. Men tend to forget this rule most often, probably because it’s more socially acceptable for them to be seen without a shirt on. But guess what? We’re not at the beach or the gym, hence it is not socially appropriate. Let’s agree to keep all the goods covered until the nurse steps out. This will make you more awesome.
- Don’t overshare—As healthcare providers, we need to know information about you. We do care about your medical history. We also care about your mental health. Outside of these realms, we need you to use your filter. Do we need to know that you’ve had three heart attacks in the last ten years? Yes. Do we need to know your wife is a nag? Not so much. Do we need to know you struggle with anxiety and you’re nervous about having surgery? Absolutely. Do we need to know how many times you’ve, ahem, “been intimate” in the last six months? No. There will never be a time we will ever need to know that. These are just a few examples of critical and noncritical information that you should and should not share. Getting in touch with your filter before you talk to strangers is not only good patient conduct, it’s good for life. Let’s try hard on this one, ok?
5. Be nice to people with needles—If you know someone is going to be sticking you with a sharp object, being kind to her/him can’t hurt. It might even earn you some compassion points with your nurse. Coming in with a chip on your shoulder is not helpful, nor is degrading the person taking care of you with questions like, “Have you ever done this before? Are you an actual RN? No one has ever had trouble starting IVs on me. Why can’t you get it?” Little jabs like these are not needed. Everything doesn’t always go according to plan, and believe me, your nurse is just as frustrated as you are. So if you could show a little grace that would make you awesome. We know you’re not here because you WANT to have surgery, usually it’s because you HAVE to. So let’s try to work together on this.
If you follow these simple rules you are well on your way to being every nurse’s favorite patient.
As I look over this list, it dawns on me these are all good life skills….you’re welcome.
*Put your phone down when a person is talking to you
*Brush your teeth
*Don’t undress in front of strangers
*Use a filter
The people I know that do these things in real life tend to be awesome.
Hmmmm….maybe I should add Life Coach to the old resume. I’ll put it next to “Restaurant Hostessing” experience. Both are equally impressive.
Anybody willing to share a funny nurse/patient experience?
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