The first introduction between the nurse and patient sets the tone for the entire shift.
Create the best foundation for each nurse-patient relationship by following these tips for what to say and do when introducing yourself to new patients.
1. Be clear and own your title
For the most professional introductions, use your full name and state your title clearly: “Hello, my name is (First and Last Name). I’m a Registered Nurse (or Nurse Practitioner, Licensed Practical Nurse, etc.) and I will be taking care of you today.”
2. Use positive body language
If our bodies don’t match what we’re saying, we’re likely sending mixed messages. Be sure to make eye contact and smile while introducing yourself. A firm handshake is another way to make that personal connection.
3. Make it about the patient
Whatever is going on outside the room or inside our heads, work on focusing your attention outward — toward the patient — to stay present with them. Ask how they’re doing and listen to the answer.
4. Write your name down
If your institution has white boards in the patient’s room, don’t forget to update them. Hearing, then seeing your name, along with the other caregivers on your patient’s team, will make a patient feel more at ease.
5. Consider cultural differences
Culture, or the attitudes and behaviors of a particular social group, can greatly influence the interactions we have with our patients. This can be related to ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender, among other factors, such as age and family dynamics. And it’s not just the patient’s culture that matters here. Remember that we all come with a cultural blueprint that may influence how we relate to others.
6. Use the patient’s name
There can’t be a more simple or expedient way to make a patient feel special than by using his or her name. Dale Carnegie, famed author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, is quoted as saying, “Using a person’s name is crucial … Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate.”
What do you think makes a successful introduction to a new patient?