What's My Day Like Nursing?

This post may contain affiliate links and advertising. We make a small commission if you make any purchases through any of these links, at no extra cost to you. This helps us to run and improve Nursing ADPIE. Disclaimer: Although we are nurses by profession, we are not YOUR nurses. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and does not establish any kind of nurse-patient relationship with us. We are not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.
If you are thinking of going into the world of nursing, you are probably wondering what that might look like. We wanted to give you a description of our days so you won't go into clinicals or nursing totally blind. This is for our 65-bed hospital where Sara and I met! We started working as techs and in my case as a unit secretary also. Our day usually starts by 0700. Most hospitals use military time, so get used to that. Many nurses get there early to get some idea of their assignment, look up labs and reports, and get settled for the long day ahead. Many hospitals or units are requiring that you perform bedside report.

Properly done, bedside report increases patient outcomes and includes the following steps:

- Both nurses are present to check mentation
- Confirm the plan with the patient
- Introduce yourself to the patient
- Perform a very short focused assessment to make sure there aren't any significant clinical changes

When you have gotten report on your patients for the day you will begin to fully assess your patients and pass medications. This is only if it is appropriate though! You are constantly assessing and prioritizing and you may have to do other tasks. I prefer to give my morning medications while I do my assessment. I have found if I don't, I will be behind for the rest of the day. You will find your own rhythm and how you like to do things.

After seeing your patients and giving medications, you need to chart. My own experience is if I get up from my chair when I'm charting I won't finish, so I get everyone sorted out, then sit down to document all of my findings. You will need to consult the experienced nurses on your unit and policy to see what charting is expected of you and what may be extra documentation. When you first start documenting you will be so slow! I promise you will get faster!

I'm usually finished charting by 1030 or 1100. Just in time to pass more medications and check on my patients! We are required to chart every 4 hours at least and as needed (PRN).

Depending on where you work, you could end up with very different patient demographics. As an smaller community hospital, we cared for anyone 18 yrs and older. Occasionally we would care for pediatric patients, but that was usually for appendicitis. You also have to look at your community to see who you will be caring for. If you work in a city with a lot of crime, you may see more trauma, drugs, and violence related injuries in the ER. If you have any number of retirement communities or nursing facilities, your observation and inpatient clients will most likely be from those populations. When looking for a job, you will want to take that into consideration. For other tips on finding a job, check out this post - Changing Jobs: How Do I Interview As A Nurse.

No work day as a nurse is complete without something going wrong! So, what barriers could you expect to face? You will be interrupted during everything you are doing.

Drawing up meds? Interruption.
Charting your assessment? Interruption.
Writing your nursing bl...? Interruption.

When you do come back to your task, you need to document everything you just did. You have to think of your charting as a legal document. That can be a lot of pressure. You will get used to it though.

You also won't pee, sit down, eat, or take a deep breath. But, I don't think any of us would trade this crazy profession for anything. I know I could not imagine doing anything else in the care of others.

Let us know what your typical day is like in the comments! We would love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading and as always, please continue to monitor...

- David RN

Meet One of Our Writers: Sara

This post may contain affiliate links and advertising. We make a small commission if you make any purchases through any of these links, at no extra cost to you. This helps us to run and improve Nursing ADPIE. Disclaimer: Although we are nurses by profession, we are not YOUR nurses. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and does not establish any kind of nurse-patient relationship with us. We are not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information. We also collect some user data of our site for the purposes of improving the user experience.

Meet one of our writers: Sara / Subscribe for more great content / Nursing ADPIE / #rn #bsn #nursingeducation #murse #studentnurse #nursingstudent #nursingadpie #nursing #adpie

I’m a 29 year old nurse that lives and breathes nursing. Truly guys, my whole life revolves around nursing! I could go on about my personal life and talk about my love for a certain pop star that will never know me or I could just talk to you guys about what you’re really here for....nursing. Shout out to Justin Timberlake if you’re reading this...I’ve loved you since your Ramen-noodle-hair days!

Okay, back to nursing, I started out as a volunteer in 2008 at Covenant Hospice. That was such an eye opening experience! At 18 years old, I had a firsthand experience of what true empathy looked like. These nurses were angels and I wanted to do everything I could to learn from them so one day I could be there for someone in need. I already knew deep down that nursing was in my blood. My grandma is a nurse and I knew I would do everything in my power to be just like her. This validation lit a fire in me and from that point forward I knew I wasn’t going to let anything stop me until I became an RN.

Fast forward to 2012: I started as a Patient Care Technician (this was not a licensed or certified position at the facility I started with) while in nursing school at a small community hospital aka: My First Love. I was incredibly fortunate and blessed to have a manager that provided a nurturing learning environment. From there I continued on as an RN pursuing my BSN and shortly after I went for my MSN. As I excelled in academia, my manager rooted for me to keep going! Her love and support meant more to me than I could attempt to put into words!

During that time, I decided to be part of the weekends program in an effort to stay organized with all the responsibilities that came with school...you know normal stuff:
  • Panic attacks
  • APA papers
  • Panic attacks
  • Tests
  • Coffee
  • More APA papers
  • Did I mention panic attacks?
To be fair, I had the best support around me. Everyone knew my stress level was high and their love and encouragement kept me going. This was not only from my friends and family, but also from the school of nursing! Let’s be honest, it takes a special place to really care about their students like that!

Since being on the weekend program, I trained for:
  • Charge Nurse. I have since become a full-time charge nurse
  • Preceptor
  • A member of the guiding coalition with our Chief Nursing Officer
  • Med-Surg Certification
Upon graduation, I transitioned into PRN House Supervisor where I was trained for inserting midline catheters, assumed responsibility for making the PCT and UC schedules, became a sepsis instructor and currently I’m part of the quality council. It was a busy 2 years in grad school, somewhere in there I even got married!

Poor guy, he’s a trooper...he knows about my love for J.T. and still stuck around!

I've been provided so many opportunities so I strive to continue to give back to my first love, it’s grown me from the novice nurse I once was to the seasoned nurse that I am today. My teaching philosophy is geared more to the nurturing learning as I was once fortunate to have in an effort to influence someone else’s career as my manager did for me. So just from this little snippet of my life it’s easy to see how my life revolves around nursing and how my love for it grows!

As for my future, we’ll see what happens. I’ve got some visions and goals of course! I am a lifelong learner so I hope to pursue my terminal degree in the near future as well as teach. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a bit about me, if you want to know more well then just continue to monitor...

- Sara RN

Changing Jobs: How Do I Interview As A Nurse

This post may contain affiliate links and advertising. We make a small commission if you make any purchases through any of these links, at no extra cost to you. This helps us to run and improve Nursing ADPIE. Disclaimer: Although we are nurses by profession, we are not YOUR nurses. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and does not establish any kind of nurse-patient relationship with us. We are not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.

Changing Jobs: How Do I Interview As A Nurse / Subscribe to our nursing blog for more tips and tricks on nursing, education, and self-care. / Nursing ADPIE / #interview #studentnurse #nurse #newjob #jobhunt #nursing #adpie #nursingadpie #murse

Happy Wednesday!

Guys, it has been so hectic around here! I've successfully moved to Phoenix, AZ. So far, it is very different from Florida! Steps are underway to get me integrated into my new employer and it has been so enjoyable actually. Very exciting. Sara and I will continue to be writing content for you guys, but bear with us as we work on the logistics of working in different cities and time zones. Onward to today's post!

I wanted to continue our series on transitioning to another RN position with a discussion of how to interview. Keep in mind this is from my own personal experiences and does not reflect the diversity of ways managers make their decision to hire based on the interview process.

First, you will want to prepare for your interview. Go to bed early! This will make you mentally clear and not quite as keyed up. Eat breakfast if you need to. Whether it is in person or remote (Skype or phone), you want to dress the part. Business casual is usually the most appropriate for a nursing interview. If you are interviewing for a position within the hospital system you already work for, you can wear your usual work attire (scrubs). Doing this for remote interviews can seem annoying, but it will get you in the mindset of that professional setting.

Make sure you have all of your necessary documents with you to show or discuss. This would include your resume and cover letter, certifications, and special projects you worked on that you want to show off. Having your resume is also nice because they will ask you to tell them about yourself and it gives you a good springboard to having something to say. It will also help you to keep your dates of previous employment in order; if you have a complicated history.

Bring something to write with and pad to take notes on. You don't want to be the possible hire who can't even show up with a pen. That does not send a good message. During interviews you also may discuss a lot of information and you won't remember it all, so bring a pad of paper to take notes.

If this is your first time interviewing for a nursing position or at all: Practice! Get a friend to ask you questions. Some universities and colleges even have a career service center where you can have a mock interview and get immediate feedback. These questions will be in-depth and thoughtful, so you should give them the consideration they deserve.

Think before you speak regarding the question. You can verbally stall by saying, "That's a great question..." or "Let me think..." The manager knows these are thoughtful questions and they deserve thoughtful answers. Don't fill the silence with noise or just start nervously talking. The hiring manager wants concise answers, so you should take a deep breath and give a full response.

The questions will be pretty standard at first:

"Tell me about yourself."

"Why are you looking for a new position?"

"What draws you to this position or hospital in particular?"

You get the idea... Then the more difficult questions start to come up if the interview is going well. These are often behavioral based and require specific examples. In the interviews I've been a part of, the questions reflect the mission, vision, or values of the organization. Before the interview, look at those and brainstorm what they may ask to see if your values align with that of the company. This kind of goes back to our previous discussion of researching the company and it will help you with this activity.

Some examples I have had are:

  • "Give a specific example of when you had to change your tactics to get proper care for a patient?"
  • "Describe a time when you had to stand up for a patient and go out of your way."
  • "Tell us how you observed a problem on your unit or in your hospital and initiated change?"
  • "Describe when you have lost the trust of your patient and how you worked to resolve the issue."
  • "Give an example of a time when you were part of a group that was not pulling their own weight and you had to confront them. How was your team dynamic afterwards?"
  • "Give an example of when your actions directly improved a process or policy for patients."

Notice how all of these examples require specific answers. Do not give them a frivolous response. Do try to be specific. Give the answer in the following format:

  • Situation
  • Action
  • Outcome

This will help your interviewer organize their notes and makes your interview smoother. They may remember back to your interview and their notes will be clear and easy to read. You're not even their yet and making their job easier!

Job hunting can be very stressful, but if you remain positive and organized you will come out employed!

Please continue to monitor...

- David RN

Changing Jobs: Tips For Finding A Job You Want

Changing Jobs: Tips for finding a job you want / How do you find a nursing job? / Nursing ADPIE / #nursing #nursinstudent #adpie #nursingadpie #jobhunting #findajob #jobinterview #nursingtips #murse
This post may contain affiliate links and advertising. We make a small commission if you make any purchases through any of these links, at no extra cost to you. This helps us to run and improve Nursing ADPIE. Disclaimer: Although we are nurses by profession, we are not YOUR nurses. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and does not establish any kind of nurse-patient relationship with us. We are not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

We have been a little sporadic with our posts because both Sara and I are going though some changes. One of which is: I'm moving!

This will be my first time actually trying to find a job as a nurse that is outside the hospital I practically grew up in. It has been a time of growth and some growing pains. There is little information on job hunting for nurses specifically, so I wanted to share some tips that I have used.

  • Make a resume that stands out
This may sound obvious, but I don't just mean the information should stand out. The visual impact of the resume or cover letter should be appealing. I used a website called Canva to make mine with great results. It is clean and professional with the information clearly displayed and organized. For bonus points, make your color scheme the same as the hospital or clinic's. It shows you actually put in some effort to get to know the company and your documents are already mirroring the hospitals. On a psychological level, it will also make you more favorable to the recruiter or manager too.

  • Use job sites
Go ahead and post your resume on sites such as Glassdoor, Monster, or Indeed, etc. Recruiters are constantly crawling these sites. You can set up alerts to be notified when something you are interested in gets posted as well. Don't limit yourself to just jobs sites though!

  • Use word of mouth
Talk to people who live and work in the area you are interested in. They can give you the scoop on which facilities are good to be employed with. Even people who are not medical are good to speak with. They can give you some outside perspective of how patients and their families feel about the facility and the care it provides.

  • Apply through the facilities' website
You can often search by specialty and once you fill out one application on their site its a breeze to apply for others since they have most of your information and experience already. I applied for 7 jobs in one day with the same hospital. It was very easy. You also can get some specific information about the facility and it will help you with your application.

  • Read the facilities' website
Do not blindly apply to jobs! Read the company website, look at their mission, what does their values statement say? You are going to be working for them and representing their company. You need to communicate in your interview that you know what this company is representing. Make notes and put these values in your cover letter or make it a talking point in your interview.

  • Keep organized
This may be obvious, but keep track of where are you applying and who you are speaking to. Follow up on your emails and phone calls.

  • Be honest
If you don't want a job just tell them you're not interested. You have goals and specialties that you are interested in. Stick to those! Unless you are coming under the wire and need a job. There will always be jobs, just be patient and believe in your abilities to stand up for the position you want.

I'm sure there are other tips to landing a call to interview with them, but these are the highlights for me. If anyone has suggestions or questions, please let us know!

As always, please continue to monitor...

- David RN

Characteristics of a Great Nurse

Characteristics of a Great Nurse / Be the Example of a Great Nurse / Nursing ADPIE / #RN #nursingeducation #nursingleadership #nurses #nursingstudent #nursingadpie #adpie #nurse #murse
This post may contain affiliate links and advertising. We make a small commission if you make any purchases through any of these links, at no extra cost to you. This helps us to run and improve Nursing ADPIE.
Disclaimer: Although we are nurses by profession, we are not YOUR nurses. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and does not establish any kind of nurse-patient relationship with us. We are not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.
Happy Wednesday to our favorite people!

Welcome back to discuss another topic here at ADPIE. This is Sara with you and I have to say this topic is near and dear to my heart - Leading by example. So today we are going to discuss some of the characteristics of a great nurse. Automatically I think of a handful of nurses that immediately come to mind. Some have been in this profession since the beginning of time. Respect to them for paving the way for us! Others are the fresh eyes that are not burned out - hopefully they follow our blog and learn how to prevent it.

Nonetheless, these are the people that you want to work with. I’ll be the first one to admit it, when I come to work and check the board for my assignment, I am STOKED when I see certain people working with me. This doesn’t mean that I dislike my other colleagues, I feel motivated and want to be on top of my game, which we always should be, but we’re still human and some days we’re shooting for …dare I say…minimal effort.

As the saying goes, "Keep ‘em alive till 0705.”

These are the nurses that when you’re working, no matter what your patient acuity looks like, it’s going to be a great day. This is because you’ve got the dream team! Overall, I will tell anyone to be the example, but there is more to it than that!

Here are the characteristics I think we should all possess to be that awesome nurse:

  • Knowledgeable
    • Who doesn’t love a nurse that knows their stuff?! Having the kind of resources readily available is such a privilege and we should strive to keep our knowledge up to date to maintain a safe practice! I love bouncing ideas off other nurses’ heads seeing if I’m on the right track. I may have been a Med-Surg Nurse for 5 years, but I certainly do not know it all.
  • Caring
    • I believe this is something that cannot be taught, but something that is innate. Possessing this quality doesn’t just mean you are caring for the patient in the sense of getting crackers and apple juice at their demand, this is listening to the patient that feels they aren't heard. It's making sure the room temperature is comfortable for the patient because the hospital is pretty much a refrigerator…just saying. A caring nurse is one that anticipates their patients' needs. We can’t predict the future but we can think ahead and grab that extra blanket, make time to sit and get to know our patients, and even pre-medicate our patient before that dressing change…because we would want it done for us, right?
  • Positive
    • Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a bad day at work? I mean, come on! We all have! At the end of the day, it’s all about our attitudes, there’s no room for negative Nancy at the Nurses’ Station, okay! If you have a bad assignment, seek help but remain positive. I read somewhere that if you force yourself to smile even just a little bit, your mind will interpret that as things are getting better. 
  • Organized
    • Look, some people thrive in chaos, and that’s fine on their personal time, but when it comes to taking care of someone else’s loved one, maintaining an organized work space and work all together is imperative! No “winging it” allowed! We were taught to look clean in order to look professional and to write neatly to prevent any errors. You know what? There’s a method to the madness. Check boxes to stay on top of tasks work for some people, having a certain workflow that has proven successful for passing medication on time and assessing multiple patients would be another good example. Find what works for you and stick with it!
  • Critical Thinking
    • This one is probably my absolute favorite! Critical thinking is taught in school, but I am a firm believe that there are certain times where we go into information overload and we may have covered it but we also covered like five thousand other things so how can we keep up. My best advice for learning how to critically think is to practice this skill. I like reading case studies from time to time, if you have a mentor then perhaps ask them to simulate a scenario and discuss.  
  • Respectful
    • Often, we forget to respect one another. I think it’s because the stress gets to us and the person in front of us is the one that’s going to get it. This also includes phone etiquette, non-verbal communication, etc. The main thing I want to say about this is: No matter how bad things get, or how stressful, or how far you’ve advanced in your career…we all must maintain professional behavior and respect for one another! No one is better than another, we are a team! If you have half the alphabet behind your name and someone is speaking to you, it does NOT mean you’re allowed to speak in any fashion less than respectful. If you are a charge nurse and you’re in staff because it’s another charge nurse’s turn, you STILL MUST RESPECT THEM! This is a pebble in my shoe, when two individuals hold the same title and one does not give the other the respect they deserve…this is not okay. You guys, we are professionals, let’s act like it!
  • Proactive
    • One of my favorite things that a night shift nurse has done for me is to hang a brand-new bag of fluids! I know it sounds so silly, but the beginning of the shift I am getting my ducks in a row, assessing my patients, researching about them, prepping them for procedures... The list can be endless at times. So I for one am extremely appreciative of these little gestures. Proactive nurses are those that know the plan of care and don’t need the physician to put in an order for it. Never practice outside of your scope though! An example I can give is, if a patient comes in with a GI bleed, go ahead and start a second large bore IV in anticipation of administrating blood products. Another example is if a patient requires IV ABX longer than seven days, arrange for the patient to receive a midline and set them up for success! As nurses, we have so much power to make a difference without overstepping any boundaries! 
  • Attentive to detail
    • This kind of goes hand in hand with staying organized, but those who are attentive to detail also think critically. This helps in scenarios such as when a patient isn’t doing well and you’ve recognized it early enough to intervene. This is always the goal. Attention to detail save lives, that’s the bottom line! 
  • Lifelong learner
    • Okay everyone, here is the deal, our patients are expected to live longer which means that the care we provide will become more complex. I say this to emphasize the importance of keeping up with changing information! That being said, if you have your ADN, plan to pursue your BSN! As nurses, we are in fact lifelong learners! Medicine is always changing and there will always be new information for us to learn and apply in our practice. You owe it to yourself and your patients to push yourself for the next best thing, because you can do it!
  • Team player
    • Last, but certainly not least, team players. I absolutely positively love nurses that are team players! You know who they are, the ones that are behind on their charting too but are still wanting to help you and make sure that your patients are taken of! Team players are those that pick up on a day we’re short, or one that’s willing to jump in and answer the call light, or willingly float to another unit. To be transparent, when I think of team players I think of David, in fact he does posses all of these qualities and it is pretty amazing that I get to work with my best friend. It really is true “teamwork makes the dream work!”

So after reading all of this, we kind of get the idea of it all. When you think of that Rockstar nurse, strive to be like them. Lead by example. You never know who is watching you and is striving to be just like you!

What other qualities do you think a good nurse possess?

When you think of things qualities, who comes to mind?

Share with us your thoughts, we’re always thrilled to hear from you. Stay tuned for next week’s topic, until then please continue to monitor…

Second Victim in Nursing: I could have done more!

This post may contain affiliate links and advertising. We make a small commission if you make any purchases through any of these links, at no extra cost to you. This helps us to run and improve Nursing ADPIE.
Disclaimer: Although we are nurses by profession, we are not YOUR nurses. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and does not establish any kind of nurse-patient or educator-student relationship with us. We are not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.

Good morning everyone and happy new year! Thank you for joining us again! This is Sara and I wanted to discuss with you all a common topic that’s viewed as a taboo: Being a "second victim".

This is believed to be a professional who is involved in an incident that results in either potentially or actually harming someone. That would mean the individual being harmed is the first victim. Human error is to be expected, but what if your profession is to heal and a less than favorable outcome occurs? Stepping back from the anguish and guilt isn’t always as easy to do as it is to advise to someone. For some individuals, the trauma of harming another being is so severe that they aren’t able to return back to their profession. This trauma is not always experienced by novice nurses, the experienced nurse that has been doing this for years is not exempt, I assure you!

During my research, I was a bit devastated as I placed myself in some of these people’s shoes and felt how real this could be! Think about it, instead of giving 500 units of heparin subQ, you give it IV…it could happen! As someone who checks, and double checks, and sometimes triple checks, I still could very well make an error. I would blame myself but I would also analyze the situation. Was it my lack of knowledge? is it an opportunity to improve my process? Did I deviate from the standard and take a short cut? Sometimes things happen resulting in an adverse event. I provided this example because medication errors are the most common. I stress to everyone the importance of following the 6 rights of medication administration along with researching the medication you are administering to your patient. If medication requires a co-signature, it is there for a reason and do not override it as it is in place as a safety precaution.

I recently read about a nurse that administered the wrong dose to a patient. The nurse was known as a “healer” by all her colleagues and she made an error that would not only cost her the patient’s life, but also her own. No one goes into nursing with the intention of hurting the vulnerable. She mourned her patient along with the loss of her job, career, and identity. She was required to pay a fine and was unable to care for patients alone as part of her contract when she sought new nursing position. She found herself continuously and closely monitored and unable to practice with any autonomy. She knew this is the result of her actions. Her guilt and depression took over and she took her own life. Generally, we punish ourselves harshly as a result of mistakes, adverse events, and failure.

So what can you and I do about it? Let’s provide peer support! Situational awareness is imperative in nursing, so if you’re noticing your colleague is having anxiety or stress caring for their patients, reach out to them. Suggest seeking help as they may be suffering silently. If you yourself have experienced a traumatic event, please talk to someone about it. Most hospitals have employee assistance programs or maybe talk to your manager. Transparency and patient safety go hand in hand, and I for one believe that if we are able to talk about something that has been effecting us negatively, we can overcome it. Nursing is not always easy, nor will you always do every task perfectly.

I’d like to point out that my discussion today was not in anyway to frighten anyone but to bring awareness that mistakes happen and being a second victim is real. Here at ADPIE, David and I hope to provide you with as many tools to allow you to succeed. Sometimes topics like this one aren’t necessarily discussed in school and we would like to provide an educational space to talk about it. Follow this link for some recommendations by the Joint Commission if anyone is interested in reading them. We hope you tune in next week as we discuss another topic. So please continue to monitor...

*disclaimer: ADPIE is not an affiliate with the joint commission.*

But I Didn't Go To School For Psychiatric Nursing?

But I didn't go to school for psychiatric nursing? / Ask about mental health nursing / Nursing ADPIE / #nursing #nursingadpie #adpie #murse #mentalhealth #psychiatricmentalhealthnursing #nursingschool #studentnurse #nursingstudent
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Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing: You’re going to do it no matter what.

Hey everyone! It's David from ADPIE. This week I wanted to talk to you about mental health. This is one of my favorite nursing specialties! While I don't work in psych, it is such an important part of my nursing practice. Mental health has many connotations for people. Some associate it with taking care of yourself. Tea, warm baths, meditation, wine…

For others, it is a branch of medicine that is often thought of as last resort if you are trying to find a job in nursing. “The psych hospital is always hiring…”

This is so unfortunate because it is the most underutilized, but much needed branch of nursing. Nurses are so well equipped to be a valued part of mental health services.

Mental health and psychiatric nursing is its own nuanced branch of nursing with its own skills and challenges. Having said that, nurses always handle mental health in some way and students really need to understand the importance of that. Psychiatric nursing is usually covered after the first semester. If you have taken any psychology courses beforehand, they will really help you out.

One topic that is discussed and often dreaded is “therapeutic communication”. It is such a hard thing to teach someone if you don’t have a knack for it. A part of it is natural ability in reading someone’s body language, reading between the lines, asking the right questions, and no small amount of intuition. Many nurses dread having to really talk to their patient; preferring to just make them better and get out of the room.

You may not have wanted to go into mental health nursing, but no matter what specialty you choose, you WILL have to talk to patients. During this time, you have an opportunity to really make an impact on someone’s situation. If you are still nervous, here are some ways to get through a therapeutic conversation:

  • Listen
    • Truly listen. Some may call this actively listening. What is the quality of their voice? Do they have a tremor despite saying they are fine?
  • Don’t try to offer advice right off the bat
    • I’ve seen some nurses get the first little bit of information and fire off some advice. Wait for the patient to finish speaking. While we are trained to intervene in many ways, do not tell them what to do. It comes off as dismissive and you sound like a know it all.
  • Keep the patient on track
    • Patients like to wander; both in conversation and off the unit sometimes. Keep them focused on what is bothering them. If you need to, bring them back to the point.
  • “Tell me more...” does actually work
    • This is such a cliche statement that we learn in school, but it really does work. It makes you open to more information and tells the patient you have the time and attention to give them. Some of the greatest stories from patients or most insightful information came from me using this very phrase.
  • Get on their level
    • Sit with them. I got this from a physician and it works most of the time to make an angry patient much more amicable to conversation. 
  • Keep your nurse face on
    • No matter what they say, keep your “nurse face” on and remain professional. You are not there to judge them or make fun of their situation. Be open to any and all information. Most of the time, patients are scared and looking for help or information. They might say some weird ****, but we need to take it all in and help them process it.

If you are interested in mental health nursing check out the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Most nursing specialties have an association and they are great resources for certifications or information on their specific specialty.

We’re looking forward to seeing you guys next week, but if you have any questions, please contact us.

As always, we’ll continue to monitor...

- David RN, BSN

What's My Day Like Nursing?

This post may contain affiliate links and advertising. We make a small commission if you make any purchases through any of these links, at...