Sue is an elderly patient who rings her bell constantly. She wants to change her position in bed. She asks to go to the bathroom. She does not want you to leave when you have met her immediate needs. She might be described as a “needy patient”. What can you do?
Do you ever say that a patient is “needy?” What exactly does that mean? Does it describe the patient who is on his call bell all the time? Is he a difficult patient? The definition of needy is “Wanting or needing affection, attention, or reassurance, especially to an excessive degree.” Before considering what to do about “needy” patients, ask yourself these questions.
1. What are your expectations of patients?
How do you think patients who are sick should act? Do you expect them to always be nice and friendly? Say please and thank you? What are you like when you are sick or in pain? Are you holding patients at a higher standard? Do you want them to act a certain way to make it easier on yourself? Do you think of patients the same way you think of your neighbors?
2. What kind of patients do you like and dislike?
Think about your past patients or the ones you know right now. Which ones are you drawn to and look forward to seeing each day? Which patients do you talk about in the back room with other nurses and dread answering their call light? Why do you gravitate towards some patients and away from others? What causes you to feel that way about them? Do they remind you of someone else in your life who you love or who irritates you?
3. How do you see your role as a nurse?
As a nurse you give medications, dress wounds and manage staff. Do you see yourself as assessing patient’s problems and planning interventions to solve them? Do you expect your patients to have needs? Do you see your job as a nurse to fill those needs? Do you only fill the needs of the patients you like? Is it your job to uncover the needs of your patients even if they don’t/can’t verbalize them?
Now that you’ve answered these difficult questions, you’re halfway to solving the problem. You identified what your expectations are of patients. You are better aware of what patients you like and dislike and why. You have looked at what you see as your role as a nurse. The article, “Needy” Patients, Let’s Learn to Deal, Lesson Two” , will show you how to deal with patients who are demanding of your time and energy.