The First Patient

doctor and patient

Arguably the scariest and most notable memory you will have as a new nurse practitioner is meeting and working with your very first patient in practice. You may even remember the very first patient you cared for as a nurse or the very first patient you cared for as a nursing student. This is another memory of firsts, and it can be intimidating. There are a few key things to keep in mind when caring for your first patient, and all the subsequent patients you will ultimately care for. The most important but subtle way to provide quality treatment to your patient is to show you care.

Show you care, and actually care, about your patient.

This sounds so basic, but it is so key. What differentiates good providers from great providers, is that great providers truly care for their patients. Patients, and people in general, can tell when they are not valued or when their health is not valued. They can tell when they are just another number, another patient on your long list of patients to see today. Caring can be difficult in times of stress, overwhelm, or burnout, but it is critical to thriving as a provider and creating healthy therapeutic relationships with your patients. If you’re not caring for your patients or your patients aren’t seeing that, they aren’t going to share with you information you need when doing assessments. This will make your job difficult in treating them and they won’t receive the care they need.

Feeling that you care and then showing it to patients can vary based on provider. For some, it is making sure you have engaged in self-care yourself so that you are empathetic and fully present when with your patients. For other providers, showing you care looks like intently listening to what the patient is saying, giving your patient your full attention with verbal and non-verbal cues, and validating their feelings and experiences. This caring aspect is sometimes what separates us as nurses from other providers. I think the hours and years we spend at the bedside as nurses before becoming advanced practice providers hones this caring quality that is innate in all of us. Make sure this is at the forefront of your practice, even when you are nervous or frustrated or overwhelmed. Caring shows through to patients and improves quality of care overall. If you remember this in the bustle of stress and obligations that come your way each day, you will be a great provider who provides compassionate, quality, safe patient care. 

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