When it comes to healthcare, nurses are on the front lines. You may be visiting a clinic, checking into an emergency department, or staying in a hospital. In any of these situations, you are likely to spend more time with nurses than with a doctor. Nurses often put in long hours tending to patient needs, assisting physicians, and educating patients and family members. There are many things nurses may wish they could tell their patients. In some cases, this advice may help patients improve their health. In others, it may remind aggravated patients that nurses are people too.
10. Keep Current with Your Vaccinations
Keeping your children up to date on their vaccinations helps protect your children and their classmates against preventable illnesses. Similarly, making sure to get your annual influenza vaccine can keep you from suffering the misery and expense of a bout of the flu. Some individuals mistakenly believe that the flu shot doesn’t work for them or even causes the flu. However, the CDC recommends that everyone age six months and older receive a flu vaccine each year. The flu vaccine prevents millions of influenza illnesses and tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year.
9. Avoid Turning to the Internet for Medical Advice
It is tempting to turn to the internet to try to diagnose, treat, and understand your illnesses. However, the misinformation and worst-case scenarios presented on the internet can often do more harm than good. Allow your nurse and other medical professionals to use their medical training, experience, and expertise to diagnose your symptoms. Seeking a second opinion for medical advice is sometimes advisable. However, make sure you seek that second opinion from another professional who has your specific medical information at their fingertips.
8. Realize That Emergencies Come First
It can be tough to wait your turn when you are hurting or ill. However, it is helpful to remember that your nurses and doctors must treat medical emergencies before they can treat minor illnesses. When you are suffering, it can be challenging to remember that other individuals are hurting as well. According to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, triage is the first step in emergency room care. At St. Mary’s, a registered triage nurse will evaluate your symptoms and determine the care you need. Patients may require immediate life-threatening resuscitation, emergency care, urgent, semi-urgent, or non-urgent treatment.
7. Punctuality Is Essential
It can be frustrating to find yourself hanging out in your doctor’s waiting room past your appointment time. You can help the medical staff at your clinic stay on schedule by arriving on time for your own appointment. It takes just one tardy patient to throw off an entire day’s schedule. Add in urgent, last-minute illnesses, and you can have a waiting room filled with sick, cranky patients. We all have emergencies that crop up from time to time. However, doing your best to be punctual can help keep your appointment, and the appointments of those following you, running smoothly.
6. A Hospital Is Not a Hotel
Spending time in the hospital is not high on anyone’s wish list. While staying in the hospital, you may find yourself tired, miserable, and in pain. At these times, it may be tempting to treat your nurse like a maid. Nurses desire to keep their patients as happy and comfortable as possible. However, the demands on nurses’ time make it difficult for them to satisfy every need or desire at a moment’s notice. Being respectful of their time and courteous in your requests can win you the support and assistance you need when you are staying in the hospital.
5. Being Polite Goes a Long Way
When speaking with your nurse, keep in mind the good manners your parents taught you. The misery of being sick or recovering from surgery can tempt you to behave like a whiny, demanding child. The term “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” applies here. Being kind, polite, and respectful shows your nurse that you respect and value him or her. While you may expect professionals to provide good healthcare no matter the disposition of the patient, politeness goes a long way toward easing your hospital stay.
4. Be Concise
Your nurse doesn’t want to rush you when taking your history or determining your symptoms. However, the limited time allotted for each patient makes it helpful if you can be clear and concise when listing your concerns. To make the best use of your time, arrive at your appointments with a list of pertinent information to relay to the medical staff. Additionally, it can be helpful to have a list of questions you would like answered. Carrying a list of your current medications is beneficial if you are on several medicines or have difficulty remembering the names of your medications.
3. Nurses Are People Too
When you are sick or uncomfortable, it can be easy to forget that your nurse is a living, breathing person. Just like you, nurses are human beings with worries, burdens, and problems of their own. Caring for others, whether it be in an office or in the chaos of an emergency department, can be stressful, tiring, and even heartbreaking. You should not have to suffer rudeness or disrespect. However, it may help to remember that your nurse could be experiencing a bad day too. A smile and a kind word may help raise your nurse’s spirits.
2. Hospitals Are Frequently Understaffed
It is challenging to wait for things you need, especially if you are in an uncomfortable hospital environment. Understaffing in hospitals can have serious health consequences. AMN Healthcare reports that understaffed hospitals can result in both higher nurse burnout rates and an increased risk of hospital-acquired infections. Keep in mind that your nursing staff is just as frustrated with understaffing as you are.
1. Nurses Choose Their Profession Because They Care
When working with your nurse to get the medical attention you need, it can be beneficial to remember your nurse is on your side. Many nurses choose the nursing profession due to their compassion for others and a desire to care for people who are sick and hurting. Stress, overwork, and fatigue can, at times, dampen the joy of their career. However, underneath it all, your nurses are there because they truly care for and want to help their patients.