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Talking to patients

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Fakesmile, Dec 25, 2008.

  1. Fakesmile

    7+ Year Member

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    I volunteer in an ER, only doing mechanical stuffs like paperwork.
    I'm also allowed to talk to patients lying in bed but I've never done this.
    I'd appreciate any tips on how to start this.
     
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  3. link2swim06

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    I don't understand the question... how to you talk to a professor or doctor etc. Be professional, remember they are likely in pain, and be respectful of their privacy. I mean you talk to people all day long right ?... patients are not aliens or turtles of something.
     
  4. 236116

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    *knock knock*
    hi i'm fakesmile. i'm an ed volunteer. is there anything you need? can i help you with something?

    start a convo with your mom's church friend. honestly.
     
  5. justdoit31

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    Just say you are a volunteer and ask them if they need anything. I have found volunteering in a pediatric hospital if you can offer kids games, colors, etc then bring it to them it is great- a lot of the time I will stay in their room and just color with them. So you might try visiting families with kids.
     
  6. Akmidnightsun

    Akmidnightsun Won't Save the Village
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    I've spent the last two years working in a large ED as a tech, and while a lot of my time is spent in procedures (phlebotomy/EKGs/wound care) there is also a significant portion spent attending to non-medical needs. Even if you're not allowed to provide "medical care" there is a lot of "care" you can provide. Our ED is usually freezing, and blankets from the warmer are almost always appreciated. Ask your nurses, if patients aren't NPO they will usually benefit from water at least, or food. And the volunteers in our ED take a lot of pressure off of paid staff when they can perform these tasks, and it will also give you a chance to talk to people. One caveat: because of HIPAA, you probably won't be able to discuss anything of a medical nature, but that varies by ED volunteer agreements.
     
  7. tdittyx2x3

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    I think if a patient decides to speak with you about their medical problems they are foregoing the right to privacy by speaking openly with you. That said, I wouldn't go around interviewing the whole E.D. for their medical history. And speaking to someone else about a patient, forget about it.

    I would make my rounds around the E.D. and just make sure everyone is comfortable - warm blankets, food or water if allowed, and conversation. Most everybody is waiting for this doc or that test. Waiting, waiting, waiting. So start up a conversation and let them decide what to talk about. Sometimes you get people who want to tell you their life story, others want to hear yours. Don't be afraid to use humor either. In some cases it is just what a patient needs. Be careful though, sometimes its clear they just need your sympathy and time alone. It's important to read the situation. :thumbup:
     
  8. Jolie South

    Jolie South is invoking Domo. . .
    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Patients are people. Can you talk to other people?

    Use humor. Ask how they are doing/if you can do anything (within your scope) to help.
     
  9. Hyperstudyosis

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    I volunteered in the ER too...sounds similar to what I did. Sometimes it was awkward especially since I'm kind of introverted, but usually I'd just go up to people and say hi and ask them if I could do anything for them...maybe offer them a warmed blanket or a pillow. Some people were not very talkative, but others would want to talk to me forever. I enjoyed it because I was able to meet a lot of interesting people and it made me feel important to be able to take time with people that the nurses and doctors didn't have time to. One lady was scared to death and was having difficulty breathing and they brought her in and one of the nurses got her on oxygen, but she was still freaking out, so I stood beside her and held her hand and talked with her and her husband for probably over an hour. There were always a lot of people who needed comfort and wanted someone just to talk to them or hold their hand.
     
  10. thegetupkid

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    Take a long white coat off the rack (preferably one with a last name that could match your skin color), grab a surgeons stethoscope out of his pocket while he's operating in the nearby ED, and stroll in to the patients room. he/she will likely start the conversation at this point...
     
  11. 236116

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    cute
     
  12. J ROD

    J ROD Watch my TAN walk!!
    Rocket Scientist Physician Pharmacist Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    I have voluteered in an ER for two months now. But, I have done about 30hrs a month.

    I get to do all sorts of things. I get to do vitals, clean the rooms, restock, take patients to their rooms if they have been omitted to the hospital, sutures once, move patients around (physically), collect fluids and take to the lab, even helped out in a code.

    I talk to the patients all the time. I have even been asked out, haha!!

    I ask them if they need anything or can I help them. Just talk to them. I mean if you can not handle talking to people, then you may not be in the right place.

    I love the ER!!!
     
  13. EpiPEN

    EpiPEN Aegis of Immortality
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    Normally this would be a very proper response. But when it comes from a guy who's avatar is Quagmire.... ;)
     
  14. ANF1986

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    I think its simple...Dont be afraid to tell the patient that you cannot answer their question. The majority of the time I am stopped by patients they either ask me to get them their pain medication or to find them their nurse. Just explain as respectfully as possible that you cannot fulfill their needs and you will do your best to find the person who can. I only volunteer 4-6 hours a week as I work an intense job and goto school full time, so others who have more exposure can probably relate better experiences..
     

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