Tenesia Sealey

2312 wrightsville ave wilmington, NC 28403 Tel: 9105472871 tsealey2@uncc.edu

Charlotte, North Carolina 28223 Tuesday April 12, 2011 Dear Future Self, Congratulations on graduating! I am so proud of what you have become. I know we have been through school together for many years and you probably think you know everything there is to know about you field of work. Truth is you probably do, well at least you should, you went to school long enough! However, there are a few things I would like to tell you that may help you considering you are on the search for a job. I think my suggestions will do you well once you get a job and begin working with patients. College supplied you with the knowledge in the subject of nursing. You learned mathematics, sciences, and english. You were also forced to learn many things that you probably do not remember, and do not necessarily care to be reminded of. Don’t worry, I am writing to answer the question you have yet to ask yourself: “How do I communicate with my patients?”. I read in a book once that “to become a successful nurse requires understanding the wide variety of human responses to stressful circumstances in the healthcare setting”(Sheldon 42). You can take this how you want to, but I think this quote means that you have to be ready for anything that comes your way. I know you are prepared to care for dying patients, but are you prepared to talk to them? Can you relax them enough to keep them calm but at the same time assure yourself that you are not giving them false hope? Different people deal with pain and sickness differently. Some patient’s may get depressed, and some may deal with their situation by being sarcastic and using humor. These are very important things to consider and you should ask yourself if you can handle this before you get in the situation and realize you cannot. In order to deal with these situations you have to know what type of relationship you have with your patient’s. In the same book from the quote above, Communication with Nurses, Lisa Sheldon discusses the

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nursing theorists’ Hildegard Peplau’s Theory of Interpersonal Relations. Peplau says that nurses function with six roles. These are the roles: “1. Stranger role: The nurse and the patient are introduced to each other as strangers. 2. 3. 4. 5. Resource role: The nurse relays clinical information to the patient. The nurse will answer simple questions in this phase. Teaching role: The nurse is like a teacher to the patient. The nurse gives the patient instructions and training. Counseling role: The nurse gives encouragement and guidance so that the patient can integrate his or her current life experience. Surrogate role: The nurse is there for the patient. He/She helps the patient realize their domains of independence, dependence, and interdependence. Active leadership role: The nurse assists the patient in achieving responsibility for treatment goals in a mutually satisfying way”(Sheldon 14). These phases will be very important in the process of learning about your patients. You may ask why. In order to know what to say to your patients, you have to realize the phase in which you and your patient are in. In the different phases you treat your patients differently. You may not go through each phase with every patient, but you should not assume. You should look back at these roles and confirm what role you are in with your patient. After a while, you will be able to tell in a short amount of time. My opinion is that the “stranger role” is the most important. You have to consider cultural differences when you first meet your patients. Not everyone that you come in to contact with will be like you and believe the same things that you do. You have to “Use cultural awareness in communication” (Sheldon 46). At the same time, it is the person you are caring for, not their culture. In Communication for Nurses Sheldon explains that you have to “consider the individual first and the cultural and ethnic backgrounds second.” Once you begin


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caring for the patient then you can focus more on their culture and include that cultural knowledge in your care. Not only will there be different cultures, but some of your patient’s will more than likely speak a different language than English. America is becoming more and more diverse and you must be prepared for this diversity. “You should asses the language needs of the patient, and ask for a translator if necessary”(Sheldon 46). Put yourself in your patient’s shoes, if you were in a hospital in South America would you feel comfortable if the nurses were speaking about your case in Spanish? “You should never speak in front of a patient in a language they cannot understand. This could confuse and scare the patient. You might also want to learn some common phrases in a resident’s native language”(Fuzy 60). Even though you took Spanish in middle school and four years of French in high school, I can almost bet that you do not remember half of what was taught to you. It is ok though, it is not your requirement to be literate in every patient’s language or every patient’s culture for that matter, but you should take the time to learn a few common words, more so in Spanish, so that you will not be completely clueless when handling a patient who does not speak English. A few years back I held an interview with Ms. Susan. (mom’s old friend from work). I asked her a few questions about communication between patient’s and nurses and she pretty much told me the same things that I have mentioned. There was one subject that she touched on though that I did not think to include. You have never had a bad temper Tenesia, but I do know that at certain times during the day it does not take much to aggravate you. Ms. Susan informed me that you can not let your emotions (of any kind) get involved when caring for a patient. “You may deal with a patient with Alzheimer's and they will not realize that you have done nothing wrong and they might curse you out with no warning. You can not get offended by this and you must control your anger and handle the patient accordingly. If a patient tries to hit you, you should not hit back, ever. But you should avoid getting hit.” She is completely right! It is a natural reflex to hit back if you have been hit, but at work, especially in the nursing field, you cannot act on impulses. You will be fired in no time, and you will probably have a lawsuit on your back as well.

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Second to your relationship with your patients should be your relationship with the patients family. You will have to prove to the families that you are trustworthy so that they will be comfortable leaving their loved one in your care. A way to gain trust from the patient’s family is to properly communicate with them about the health and care of their relative. The family will have to know that you will give them accurate, honest information. “A trusting relationship with patients and their families is built on open, honest communication” (“Communicating with Patients”). During your career you will find reasons why this is hard to achieve and that is something you will have to overcome. Communication will not always be easy, so you will have to work hard in order to get your job done properly. Even though you will need to communicate with your patient’s family be sure that you are only releasing information that is allowed to be released. Confidentiality is important in the healthcare field. No one but the patient and approved family should be told the confidential information. Tenesia, I wish you much luck on finding a job and I know you will be a great nurse. Remember what you have learned throughout school and keep in mind what I have told you in this letter. Do not be afraid to take advice from fellow nurses and other health care workers you may come into contact with. Keep your mind focused on the job at hand and you will have no problems. However, you must remember that everyone makes mistakes (even though yours have to be minor) and you have to be able to learn from them and learn from your patients. I will be writing soon to see how the job search turned out!

Your Friend,

Tenesia Sealey

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Works Cited “Communicating with Patients.” American Hospital Association. N.p. , 2006-2011. Web. 22 March 2011.

Dare, Frances. “How Nurses Communicate.” Cisco Blog. Inc. 12 05 2009. Web. 27 March 2011.

Fuzy, Jetta, RN, MS. Hartman’s Nursing Assistant Care: The Basics. 3rd ed. Albacore que, NM: Hartman Publishing, Inc. , 2010. Print.

Lindham, Susan . Personal Interview. April 2 2011.

Sheldon, Lisa. Communication for Nurses: Talking with Patients. 2nd ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2009. Print.

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