When I first started as a nurse practitioner (NP), it took time to build up my practice. Between examining patients, I functioned as an office nurse. I loved it! Here’s three ways for you as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) to practice well in an office setting.
1. Look for opportunities to assess
You may observe things that the practitioner may not. The patient may tell you something that is important about his condition but then not mention it again to his practitioner. Here are some other examples:
Your patient has difficulty getting up from the chair in the waiting room. What’s that all about? Ask him if he’s having pain.
You weigh him. He says he wants to try to lose weight. Maybe he’s motivated to make a change.
You ask him what medication he takes. He isn’t sure.
All of these situations are openings for you to take action. in addition to alerting his practitioner, you may also be able to teach this patient how to take his meds or how to use transfer more easily.
2. Teach when possible
Your patient carries his walker into the room. He says he doesn’t know how to use it. He gets nauseated when taking his narcotic analgesic. Both are teachable moments. After his visit, show him how to use his walker properly. Tell him to take his pain pill with food or with a meal. See if he has a medication for nausea. If not, talk with his practitioner.
3. Realize the importance of your relationships with your patients
When my dad was 88 and homebound, he saw every possible specialist except a psychiatrist and gynecologist. His clinic visits were the only time he had to interact with other people. He looked forward to talking with his favorite nurses. These are the nurses who focused on Dad and his many illnesses. They were capable, caring and supportive at the same time. They made sure he got the care he needed. He often talked more with them than with his physician.
From the time you call your patient out of the waiting room until they are walking out the office door, keep your nursing eyes and ears open. You can gain valuable information and use your nursing skills so your patients get the highest quality health care possible.