We Know How You Feel

Before we first-year nursing students were let loose on the hospital floor, we had to take a communication class, also known as "How to Talk to a Patient."  We learned useful techniques such as active listening and interpreting non-verbal cues.  The class, of course, didn't make us perfect communicators right off the bat.  I heard of one young nurse interviewing a patient on her first day of clinical training on the psychiatric ward.  As the patient finished describing all the heartbreaking events of his life, the stunned girl concluded, "Wow.  That's enough to drive a person crazy." Mistakes aside, I found the classes very helpful.  One thing the instructor told us stood out to me, and I've never forgotten it: "Never, never tell a patient that you know how he feels.  Because you don't.  You can't possibly know how he feels." I must confess that I've slipped up verbally a time or two and told a patient, "I know how you feel."  The patients'...(Read Full Article)

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