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Patient Communication – Reading Between the Lines

Sometimes being a nurse feels a lot like being a parent. You have to make sure your charges are taking their medication, staying out of trouble and you have to read their body language to get the full story. Part of being in a vocational nursing program is learning how to treat patients, but also how to listen to what they are NOT saying.

I found an interesting article on that describes six things your patient won’t tell you. The first on the list pertains to pain. Some people moan and groan just to get a dose of meds while another will down play any discomfort. I think the hardest part is getting the experience and intuition to find out who really needs the attention and who needs a room in the farthest corner of the ward (okay, I’m just kidding about placing a problematic patient far away, but don’t tell me that you haven’t thought about it, too!)

The next circumstance where the truth isn’t always easy to determine is the story behind how the patient really got hurt. Watch a half hour of America’s Funniest Home Videos or YouTube and you can see how stupid people really can be. (I’d be too embarrassed to tell the truth if I was some of those people, that’s for sure!)

Following the directions on a medication bottle is another area where patients can give misleading information. Many of the elderly forget to take their prescriptions or others just aren’t consistent with it.

Giving a full medical history can also be a grey area for patients. Does every sprained ankle, ER visit or family condition need to be explained? Yes! Some of these instances can be personal, others insignificant, but the complete picture is needed for the best treatment.

Finally, we all want to keep our bad habits out of public view. Our junk food habits, lack of exercise or Friday night vices aren’t things we want to share with strangers, even if they are wearing scrubs. (Okay, I admit I am guilty of this one. My doctor always asks if I am exercising to help my fibromyalgia, so for a while I would show up for my appointments wearing tennis shoes and sweats so he would think I came from or was on my to the gym. Oh, the shame!!!)

Graduating from a vocational nursing college means that you’ve mastered a lot of important skills. Reading patients and gaining their trust is a skill that also needs to be honed!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit

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Ten Ways to Look Like You Have it All Together Part II

Life is tough: you’re getting health career training, you’ve got a family, you want a social life. Well, I can’t promise you success in all of those things, but hopefully some of these tips will make the tedious parts of life just a little more bearable.

Cynthia Dusseault on has a few suggestions to help simplify your life and you can be the envy of all your co-workers. Here is the second half of her list.

6) Don’t let your pen out of your sight. – Can I borrow your pen? NO! Just for a second? NO! You may come off cruel and crazy, but you won’t have to search for a pen when you desperately need one and you’ll save precious minutes. (Or you could just carry around a spare, too.)

7) “If your facility isn’t using a ‘bedside handover’ system, suggest it. – Conducting bedside handovers from off-going nurses to on-coming nurses saves time because it enables patient safety assessment and allows nurses to respond early in their shifts to the needs of patients. It also keeps patients and families more involved in the plans of care,” recommends Dusseault.

8 ) Document ASAP – Don’t leave your charting until the last part of the day. You’ll waste time and energy trying to remember what you did. If you can, do it as you go.

9) Learn how to remove yourself politely. – Some patients just love to talk. You’ve been there: you’re thinking about all the things you have to do while a certain patient has to tell you all about their beloved pet, their last experience at the hospital or the ten minute joke they told you yesterday. You don’t want to be rude, but you have more than one patient to care for. Try saying something like this: “I’m so sorry. I have to go and take of another patient, but I’m not far if you need me, and I’ll come back if I have a free moment and we can continue talking.” Or you can run out screaming…. Your choice.

10) Eat right. – Dusseault explains “The best energy combination is a carbohydrate plus a protein because carbohydrates give you energy, and proteins prevent your blood sugar from spiking after eating those carbohydrates, so they get more staying power, which translates into sustained energy. And you know that the minute your energy level starts to drop, so does your productivity.”

I hope these tips help you to make the most out of your work day. Being in a Bay Area nursing school is a lot of hard work, so sometimes it helps to know some of the tricks of the trade.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit

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Tips for Being the Best Nurse You Can Be

There are thousands of awesome nurses out there who have a ton of experience. Sometimes the best way to learn is to just listen. If you are an LVN to RN student, here are some tips from seasoned nurses so you can avoid some of the pitfalls of newer nurses and not recreate the wheel to success. contributor E’Louise Ondash, RN, interviewed several nurses who have spent decades in the health care industry and here are some of their words of advice.

1) Listen to Your Patience – I know this sounds obvious, but sometimes we get so caught up in information that is written in black and white that we forget to always give validity to a patient’s concerns or health claims. Paula Davies Scimeca, RN, MS states, “for years, some patients have insisted that the effect of medication has been different than what the majority of patients experience and new research supports their claim. There is now a recognized phenomenon of pharmacogenetics.”

2) Create a Professional Philosophy to Live By – If you have a purpose statement guiding you, it will give you strength during times when you feel discouraged. For example, Davies philosophy is to “Act as if this was the very last chance I have in life to make a difference.”

Brian Elliott, RN, OCN, incorporates his faith into his work as he treats oncology patients. “I’m led by the morals and values taught in the scriptures and try to treat all of my patients with same courtesy and compassion that I’ve been afforded.”

3) Keep Learning – As a nurse, you will never know it all and just when you think you’ve mastered a skill, a newer and better way seems to pop up. Joyce Batcheller, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN explains, “Education will continue to play an important part in nursing. You have to keep up with what’s happening. You have to commit yourself to life-long learning and keep up with technology. There is always a demand for nurses but (the work environment) changes. Continuing education is necessary because of the increasing complexity of patient care. I tell my staff that it doesn’t make any difference where you start (your career) because nursing is so diverse. You can’t get bored. Future nurses will have even more choices.”

If you are in an LVN to RN nursing program in the San Francisco Bay Area, now is the time to use all the resources that are available to you as you further your nursing career.

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