Tuesday, May 20, 2008

therapeutic: adj. ~of or relating to the healing of disease. ~having a good effect on the body or mind, contributing to a sense of well-being.

Well, if you are a nurse, nursing student, or nursing instructor you can just skip over this posting. You, like me, probably remember your Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing instructor standing before you stating that she is going to teach you to communicate like a nurse. "Communicate?" you're thinking, "didn't I learn that when I was two?". Not only do I have to memorize hundreds of new medical terms, relearn how to wash my hands, wear a stupid white uniform, and pretend like I know how to give a shot, I ALSO have to learn how to communicate??? AGAIN?!?!

Before anyone panics, this whole therapeutic communication thing will turn into, like most other things I've learned in my life, not as big of a deal as it seems. Sure, they say you are never allowed to ask "Why?" (it's not your business anyway). You can never lead an answer, "You don't smoke, do you?" And you must never ever ask a yes or no question, "Are you in pain?" Because none of those things would provide you with sufficient information and of course they would be devestatingly untherapeutic, and hey! We're nurses right? That means we are nice people and even if that isn't true we must make people think we are nice people by speaking sweetly and of course, therapeutically.

Now, do you really ever consider those things when you've got a 5 year old screaming that he wants his mom or an 89 year old nursing home patient telling you that she needs to pee, when in reality she has had a foley catheter for three days? Of course not. You are more concerned about the old lady's urine output and the kid's broken arm than you are about what comes out of your mouth. Maybe that's good. Maybe it's not. But hey, it's truthful. And I think that's what therapeutic communication is all about anyway.