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PT on the Run

Student and Patient Communication

Published July 10, 2014 4:24 PM by Michael Kelley

So I had a student start a couple weeks ago. You may recall I wanted to have a "student summit" this summer, but unfortunately it got bogged down in some administrative red tape. Needless to say it's been tentatively scheduled for this fall after my student's rotation is done.

Anyway, my student has been doing well. This is his third clinical of five, and will last for eight weeks. So he's picked up the documentation pretty quickly and his treatment planning is decent. The problem is, and I know it's only been a week-and-a-half, but I'm having trouble getting an idea of what his personality is like. He told me that he has only worked in outpatient orthopedics before so his inpatient experience has been limited. So I'm not sure if he is just nervous or what, but he seems a little uneasy with inpatients -- almost awkwardly so.

I've tried to offer advice on how to talk to patients with more difficult diagnoses, especially when it comes to patients with altered mental statuses (Alzheimer's, dementia etc.) for example, but it doesn't seem to be getting through.

I'm not saying everyone should talk and act like me (we can't all be perfect -- ha ha), but I think there's a way to talk to members of the geriatric population that's different from other, younger populations. Maybe it just takes more practice?

Any thoughts? Any ideas on how to calm a student's nerves to let him better communicate with patients?

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I might have some insight on how your student may be feeling. I work with multiple dementia and Alzheimer patient on a daily basis with ambulation, ROM, and many other task. I think the best way to help someone get past that awkward stage of not knowing how to respond to someone who is never going to respond back in the same way twice is to try and think of it as meeting a new friend everyday and when the good day's are there for the patient then it's just like saying "Hi" to an old friend. It may be that it seems weird to your student because he/she may feel like they can not relate to what the patient is thinking or even understanding. Maybe let that person know that what task that patient is doing whether they understand what your doing on that particular day, your student is still giving the best gift of all and that is the chance to give someone who  is having a good day or bad a better quality of life and a friend who is always there to care and understand what they sometimes can't. But most of all not to take what they say personal when they are having the bad days. We all would like to think that people know we mean the best intention's but when you have no way of expressing something as simple as taking 10 step's seems to be the hardest thing in my life. We as health giver's must always be there to give that friendly face every time and that can make all the difference in the world!!!!!

Tammy Barrett, Geriatric Care - CNA/Restorative Aide, Boulevard Manor July 13, 2014 10:44 PM
Boynton Beach FL

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