Remember your first day at your first nursing job? For at least two years you endured a grueling schedule of nursing school courses and early morning clinicals, survived graduation and passed your NCLEX with flying colors. By the time you obtained your first job offer, you were bursting with excitement and ready to jump head first into your new career. But, on the first day, you arrived a bundle of nerves. How could you make sure you consistently provided the best care and experience to your patients? Who would you turn to for guidance?
As a nurse leader, it’s likely been several years since your first day on the job. Through hard work and dedication, you achieved a leadership position. Although those early days of your career may now be nothing but a distant memory, it’s a current reality for several of your newer nursing team members.
To ensure patient satisfaction, and help your new staff members succeed, here are three tips for helping new nurses communicate better with patients:
Create a Patient Communication Process
As a seasoned nurse, it’s easy to assume every member of your team knows exactly how to address and interact with his or her patients. While most nursing schools prepare students for patient communication, many new nurses can use guidance in this area. Additionally, each healthcare organization has its own unique communication style. To ensure your new nurses are prepared, put your communication process in writing and provide it to each team member. Go over the process and even take time to role-play to ensure your nurses know how to handle each situation.
For example, if your hospital has adopted shared decision making, make sure your nurse is ready to fully explain each treatment method and help his patients work through the decision.
Build a Mentor Relationship
Nurse leaders are busy people. In addition to managing your staff, you have your own patients to care for and treat. It’s easy to get so caught up in your hectic day-to-day tasks, you miss important teaching moments.
When new nurses are added to your staff, they look to you for mentorship. Although they likely have all the clinical training necessary to succeed, it’s your job to offer moral support and additional words of wisdom. During your new nurse’s first few weeks on the job, ensure there is time set aside for weekly meetings to catch up on his or her progress. Ask new team members to join you as you speak with patients so they can pick up helpful communication tips. As in any leadership role, the best way to teach is by example.
Empower Team Members to Use Nursing Judgement
While it’s important your nursing team knows they can approach you with questions and concerns as they become more comfortable in their new role, you don’t want them to become too dependent on you.
If staff members ask you for advice on something you know they're fully capable of handling on their own, turn it back around by asking what they thinks is appropriate. Help them work through the solution themselves, and then offer affirmation. More often than not, your nurses are more than prepared to properly communicate with their patients, but they’re often lacking the confidence that comes with experience. By encouraging your nurses to make their own choices and decisions, you’ll empower them to hone their nursing judgement skills and feel more self-assured.
Looking for more ways to help your new nurses improve patient satisfaction? Check out our new guide, How Nurses Can Increase Satisfaction through Patient-Centered Care.