What Your Patients Can Teach You

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Patients place respect and dignity high on the list of necessities when it comes to their own health care, says the National Institutes of Health. In the Commonwealth Fund 2001 Health Care Quality Survey, thousands of health care recipients across the country weighed in on what they considered to be quality care, and among those surveyed, respect and dignity were major factors. If your career plans include happy days filled with helping people, learning to listen to what your patients are saying can help you really succeed in your career.


What does this mean for you as you consider a career as a vocational nurse, medical assistant or other health care professional? It means the sooner you learn how to listen to what your patient is telling you, the more satisfied he or she will be. And studies have shown that patients who feel respected and cared about actually exhibit better outcomes. Vocational nurses, in particular, have the recurring opportunity to actively listen - with genuine compassion - to the people they're caring for.


The ability to feel and convey empathy is a big plus in the medical field. While it's true that getting personally involved with every patient every time isn't recommended, showing someone that you care about what they're experiencing is a big deal. This means that even if your patient can't complain about being exposed in a wide open space, it's fine to mentally place yourself in their position long enough to draw the curtains and afford them privacy.

Anticipating when a patient may be thirsty, or scared, or too warm or too cold is all a part of mastering your role as a nurse. Learn to look for the nonverbal signs your patient is giving you and learn from that. It will go a long way toward improving both your patient's experience and their outcome. And this is how you learn from patients, even when they are not speaking directly to you.


Just because fate or bad luck landed your patient in a hospital bed, this doesn't mean they aren't still capable of participating in their own health care. Talking down to patients because they're elderly or talking around them as though they're not in the room at all is alienating to someone who's used to guiding their own life. And while you will encounter patients who aren't capable of participating in this way, you'll likely run across more who are very capable.

If you learn to listen to what your patient has to say early on and notice other factors - how the family treats the person, for instance - you'll find clues as to how to interact with them in ways that show you care about what they're thinking and feeling.

Active listening comes naturally to some people and not so easily to others. If you're in that latter group, practicing this skill is a good jumping-off point for a rewarding and successful career as a vocational nurse.

Are you interested in listening to what our instructors have to say concerning your role as a vocational nurse in the health care industry? Stop by Concorde Career College today.

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