Few professions are as varied and flexible as nursing. Nurses can specialize in many different niches and medical needs present in the healthcare industry, from pediatric care to gerontology. They can also choose a more general career path and work with whoever needs their help in a hospital or department. Regardless of which journey they choose, nurses interact with patients from all walks of life struggling with all manner of challenges. To provide their patients with the most effective care possible, nurses must be able to adapt their techniques to the patient and their unique needs. This article will explore how nurses use their skills differently from patient to patient.
One of the most important aspects of a patient-nurse interaction is communication. When they can effectively converse with their patients, nurses can gather critical information about their healthcare needs and medical history. This, in turn, allows them to determine the best treatment options at their disposal, as well as potentially important information to pass on to a physician. Not everyone communicates in the same way, however, and sometimes the ability to communicate clearly can diminish with age or illness. Nurses must be able to accommodate differences in communication levels.
One of the main factors influencing communication ability is age. The very young and the elderly typically have trouble expressing themselves verbally, sometimes relying on other methods of communication entirely. Small children, for example, cannot explain complex medical symptoms through speech. They just don’t have the vocabulary to do so. Nurses must be aware of this limitation when interacting with them and turn to other forms of communication to compensate. One example of this is body language. Body language can sometimes indicate the presence of pain or other difficulties even more than words, allowing nursing professionals to gain a better understanding of the patient’s health needs.
Elderly individuals also sometimes struggle with communication. For example, serious medical events such as strokes can hinder a patient’s ability to speak, but not necessarily to communicate. In these situations, nurses must look outside of the box for communication solutions. Establishing a ‘blink once for yes, blink twice for no’ routine, for example, can sometimes allow patients without the ability to speak to participate in their medical appointments and share valuable information about their needs.
In addition to age and mental capacity, communication preference also plays a role here. Some people respond well to slower-paced conversations that give them plenty of time to think and respond while others prefer a faster-paced discussion. Not everyone is open to communicating about their health concerns either, and nurses must build some trust and rapport with these patients to open communication channels.
Not all patients require the same kind of care. They all need comprehensive and effective care, of course, but the focus of that care can vary significantly from patient to patient. To provide patients with the best care possible, nurses must understand what to prioritize and what can wait. Elderly patients, for example, might need many tests to determine the status of illnesses or diseases. Nurses caring for these patients should understand the impact they have on the patient’s physical and mental health and adapt their care accordingly.
Patients with other health issues, such as broken limbs, require care that is different from age-related care. Some of them might need physical therapy, for example, which may begin while they are still in the hospital. Nurses must be ready to adapt their schedules as needed and be cognizant of their patient’s unique needs. While relationships must always stay professional, some patients greatly benefit from social support and encouragement.
To optimize the care they provide, nurses must always keep a patient’s individual needs in mind. Not all patients have the same care priorities, and effective nurses can adjust on the fly. This is a tenet of nursing in Idaho just as it is throughout the rest of the country. Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs, such as the one offered by Rockhurst University, are crucial in educating effective and flexible nursing professionals. This ABSN course teaches nurses the skills needed to prioritize patients in this manner and personalize the care experience they offer. It also provides placement support for students in Idaho and around the country, so they can gain practical experience putting these skills to the test.
Being a team player
Another important aspect of adapting care for different patients is being a team player. Most patients have a care team consisting of multiple healthcare professionals in a variety of disciplines, especially when they are facing complex health issues. In addition to health professionals, patients might also have social workers assigned to their cases. Regardless of who exactly is on a patient’s care team, nurses are responsible for maintaining contact with these professionals. They must provide new information to the team as it arises and utilize information provided by the team when planning care techniques.
Working as part of a team can be tricky initially. There is a learning curve that requires some time to master, but once nurses get the hang of the communication skills needed to interact with other team members, the process becomes much more intuitive. Nurses should try to be proactive in facilitating contact between the patient and their care team members too, whenever possible. Patients with comprehensive care and a dedicated team of professionals pushing for their recovery are more likely to overcome their health struggles and successfully return to their daily lives.
Tailoring care to individual patients
Adapting care techniques to individual patients rather than treating everyone with the same approach is a good way to enhance the care nurses provide. Those who are interested in learning more about becoming a nursing professional can use the skills above to help guide their search for an accredited program that teaches the essential strategies for nursing.