When meeting a new patient you’ll always start by introducing yourself, yet as simple as this seems it’s not always easy. For the social butterflies among us, making a good first impression appears to be effortless and has a noticeably positive effect on patients. Even on their worst days, these nurses still find a way to pull off what you might struggle to do effectively even when you’re feeling 100%.
Don’t worry, you’re still meant to do this job if it’s your passion and what gets you up in the morning (or late nights). With the right conscious effort and pointers, you can be fluttering with the most socially attuned nurses in your workplace. Given your personality it can take some time to gain these skills, that’s why we’ve outlined these quick tips for introducing yourself.
Let’s start with a series of basic considerations that will work in almost any situation:
• Know who the patient is ahead of time
• Figure out how to address them formally
• Be consistent in your greeting each time
• Pronounce the patient’s name correctly and clearly
• Always look for things to relate about!
After applying these 5 basic aspects of understanding your patient, the next step is to build a relationship beyond the first impression. Considering that a majority of communication between nurses and their patients is nonverbal, making sure they feel comfortable and making sure that you come across as professional are key to your success. Staying friendly, empathetic, and positive are also essential to consistently healthy interactions.
Beyond the First Impression
If you’re still feeling at a loss for what ways to take charge of your first impression and each patient relationship, try to observe what brings your social peers their success. Better yet, ask for advice and help with some good old fashion mentorship. Some of the best resources are within your immediate grasp and it’s likely they’ll be flattered that you consider them to be good examples.
If you’re in need of more concrete suggestions immediately, don’t worry, here they are:
1. Friendly Eye Contact and a Handshake
Although this will change given a patient’s culture and the condition they’ve found themselves seeking care for, use your best judgment and consider whether this formal approach is fitting. In the best scenario, patients will know you’re approachable and can feel safe in your care.
2. Use the Right Tone of Voice
Maintaining the appropriate tone while addressing a patient will communicate your empathy, interest, and expertise in addressing their needs. Since you are likely to be seen as an authority figure, staying calm is essential to maintaining a patient’s confidence in your ability.
3. Explain Often and Allow Questions
Avoiding talking down to patients while allowing them to ask about a procedure is one way to build trust and ease their nerves. Don’t overuse jargon or overly medical terms when possible and ensure you leave time for them to express their concerns will go a long way.
4. Mind Your Body Language
Even if done unconsciously, body language has a huge effect on communication. Things like crossing your arms, tapping your foot, standing at an uncomfortable proximity, or other distracting behaviors can display negative messages to patients. Your best starting points include getting eye-level with a patient, minding your facial expressions, and making a comfortable level of eye contact. Use your best judgment and try to read each situation in the moment.
Although you won’t always have a perfect first impression, building a relationship beyond your introduction is what really matters. As with anything you’re looking to improve with, ask for guidance from others who you think could offer positive suggestions and make a daily effort to better yourself. It won’t happen instantly, but you’ll eventually be the social nurse you’ve always envied.