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Scripting Provides Firm Bedrock for New Nurses

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, July 13, 2010

A script with language cues helps standardize the experience and ensures patients are comfortable. A common example lays out the steps nurses should take when entering a room, including:

  • Acknowledging the patient
  • Introducing themselves
  • Stating why they are there
  • Explaining the process
  • Thanking the patient

Scripts for such interactions can be developed through conversations with nurses. Role play and get everyone involved so they work for the unit's patient care environment. Encourage nurses to practice so they remember the steps and so they can customize parts to their natural style.

Scripts have far wider use than just improving customer service-type interactions. One of the events that strikes fear into a new grad's heart is calling the physician in the middle of the night. These conversations often go something like this:

Nurse: Sorry to wake you Dr. Smith. It's Nurse Jones over at St. Somewhere Hospital and I'm calling about Mr. Williams. He's complaining of pain and we haven't been able to relieve it with the medication you ordered.
Physician: What are his vital signs?
Nurse: Hmmm, they are right here. No, actually, they haven't finished taking them yet.
Physician: When did he last have pain medication?
Nurse: Let's see. It was right before I arrived for my shift, so it's been about two hours.

A crude example, but you get my point. New grads can benefit from practicing these calls so they know what information to convey, and the best way to convey them to ensure the conversation proceeds well:

Nurse: Dr. Smith, it's Nurse Jones over at St. Somewhere Hospital and I'm calling about Mr. Williams. He's complaining of pain and we haven't been able to relieve it with the medication he has ordered. His order is ____. His vital signs are ____. The pertinent information you need to know is _____. I'd like you to _____.

 

With preparation and a script to follow, the conversation goes smoothly and all sides are happy.

Develop scripts for difficult conversations with patients, for confronting hostile peers, or for improving the way information is shared at report. Scripting arms nurses with tools so they know how to act and how to respond in difficult situations. Including scripts in graduate orientation ensures new nurses have a stable footing.


Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits www.StrategiesForNurseManagers.com and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at rhendren@hcpro.com.

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