8 Common Mistakes in Introducing Yourself To Patients

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introduce yourself

When it comes to nursing qualities, good management skills and great critical thinking skills aren’t the only things you should be concerned about. Professional etiquette and good bedside manners count, too. These two are essential in making sure you develop a good relationship with your patients.

Because every relationship starts with an introduction, you have to know exactly how to introduce yourself. To help you polish your skills, here are 8 common mistakes you should avoid.

1Waiting for someone to introduce you

If you are doing rounds with your co-nurses and you’re waiting for one of them to introduce each of you to your patients, there’s a good chance none of you would be introduced. Much like you, the rest of the other nurses are probably too shy to start an introduction or they’re waiting, too.

What to do:

You won’t feel awkward or embarrassed if you’re always ready to introduce yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to get the job done. If you are in front of your patient and it’s your first meeting, be polite and start the introduction.

In introducing your colleague, always start with the name of the person you’re making the introduction to first and then say something about the other person being introduced. In this case, the patient’s name should go first and then your co-worker.

2You don’t shake hands

A handshake can leave a friendly impression. For some people, a firm handshake establishes authority, confidence and trust.

What to do:

Although handshakes are great in creating a positive impression, you should still be cautious of using it in making introductions. Some cultures don’t approve of men shaking hands with women. Some conditions, like arthritis, can make handshakes painful, too.

If a patient denies your offer for a handshake, don’t feel bad and don’t take it personally, either. Just slowly put your hand to your side and act like nothing ever happened.

3You’re taking the conversation off-track

It’s essential to keep the conversation going after your introduction as it can help you learn more about your patient. It can help establish trust and rapport, too.

However, when talking to your patient, keep your role in mind. You should avoid controversial topics as much as possible and don’t use your personal issues to lengthen the conversation. Not only will that create a bad impression, but it can also make your patient feel awkward.

What to do:

There are a lot of topics you can use to keep the conversation going. One good tip is to make observations and comment based on what you see. You can also ask your patient a few questions or share something about yourself. Again, don’t get too personal.

4You’re slouching

Your body language says a lot about you. If you are slouching while talking to your patient, your patient can take that as a sign that you’re not really interested.

What to do:

When standing, straighten your shoulders and back. Keep your chin up and remove your hands from your pockets. You should also avoid crossing your arms on your chest, too.

As a nurse, you are likely to interact with patients from different cultural backgrounds so be careful with your body language. It might not be your intention but there are movements and gestures that can be offensive for some, like snapping your fingers, waving your hand while your arm is raised and doing the “ok” sign.

5You’re not dressed appropriately

Aside from your behavior while introducing yourself, the way you’re dressed can have an impact, too. After all, people tend to judge others by the way they’re dressed.

What to do:

As much as possible, strive to look presentable and professional at all times. Make sure your scrubs are clean and properly ironed. When it comes to scrub suit design, ensure that you are following your hospital’s protocol.

See Also: 10 Tips & Tricks To Keep Your Nursing Scrubs in Great Shape

Wearing scrubs with cartoon characters, for example, can make it a bit difficult for you to gain the trust of your adult patients. Avoid wearing scrubs that are too tight, short or loose. If you are wearing white scrubs, don’t wear dark colored underwear.

6You are not using the right tone

Even if introductions are supposed to be short, you don’t need to sound like you’re in a rush. Patients, particularly the older ones, can have a hard time understanding your full name or your intentions if you’re going to speak too fast.

What to do:

Try to sound as emphatic and polite as possible when introducing yourself. Speak in a soft yet clear voice to make sure your patient gets your name. If your patient has a hard time hearing, repeat the introduction as necessary and go slow.

7You’re not stating your intentions

Not all patients like to be touched. In fact, in some cultures, touching another person without getting permission first is offensive. Apart from that, performing procedures on an unknowing patient is likely to put him on the edge. He’s likely to trust you less.

What to do:

Always explain the purpose of your interaction with your patient. Even if it’s just to measure his blood pressure, always start by stating your purpose and asking for consent. Ask your patient if he has any questions, too. There are patients who are too shy or too afraid to ask questions to their health care providers. By asking, you’ll be opening a line of communication between the two of you.

See Also: Don’t Say That, Say This: 7 Examples Of Better Bedside Manners For Nurses

8You’re not addressing your patient properly

When performing procedures and administering medications, it’s important for nurses to state and ask for the patient’s full name. This, however, doesn’t give you the prerogative to call your patient by his first name, unless he agrees to. For some people, it’s impolite.

What to do:

Address your patients using honorifics, like “Ms.”, “Mr.” or “Mrs.”. You can also ask your patients how they like to be addressed.

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