Having a good connection to your patient has a positive impact on your work in several different ways:
Connecting to a patient on a personal level helps you..
- to keep in mind that you are dealing with people, not with body parts or diagnoses.
- to remember other important information about him. (Your brain makes a connection)
- to have a lot more fun at work.
Also, it gives your work a meaning. You will feel more motivated to improve the health of a person you are connected to, compared to someone you don’t really care about all that much.
So here are my four ways to connect:
1. Use the name.
2. Everybody likes a compliment.
3.Questions and small talk:
A couple of weeks ago I talked to a patient about her favorite meal for christmas. We talked for five minutes about how she usually prepares a goose for christmas, how long it usually takes her and what side dishes she prepares.
I was inserting a central venous catheter all the while, so it was even entertaining, we both had a great time. And I don’t think she liked me any less after this conversation.
4. Use humor.
Humor is a great way to connect with patients. Of course it takes some tact on your part, since many topics shouldn’t be joked about. Many patients do not like to joke around considering the fact they are in a hospital due to a serious medical issue.
But many of them do understand on a certain level that even though the are in a tough season of their life, staying positive and having a laugh from time to time is a good thing. And a silly joke may also distract them from their medical problem for a moment.
In my opinion the best sort of humor to be used with patients is self-deprecation. Sharing a funny experience that makes you look as a dufus always helps to put a smile on your patient’s (and the nurse’s) face.