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Art & science clinical skills

How to introduce yourself to


patients
Guest M (2016) How to introduce yourself to patients. Nursing Standard. 30, 41, 36-38.
Date of submission: February 10 2016; date of acceptance: May 13 2016.

Preparation
Rationale and key points
The nurse should ensure the environment is
This article explores the process of introducing yourself to patients. suitable for interaction with the patient. For
This is an essential interaction because it forms the basis of the example, use of a private room or drawing the
therapeutic nurse-patient relationship. curtains at the bedside might be appropriate.
 Effective communication skills are essential to foster therapeutic
nurse-patient relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
 It is important to consider both verbal and non-verbal Procedure
communication in patient interactions. This article provides an overview of the process of
introducing yourself to a patient, which may vary
Reflective activity depending on the purpose of your interaction,
any procedures that will be undertaken and who
Clinical skills articles can help update your practice and ensure it
you are speaking to. It is important to be aware of
remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on
cultural considerations and potential barriers to
and write a short account of:
communication, for example speech and language
1. How this article will change your practice when meeting patients
difficulties, visual or hearing impairments, and the
for the first time.
need for an interpreter.
2. How you could use this article to educate your colleagues.
  1. Approach the patient and if applicable the
Subscribers can upload their reflective accounts at: rcni.com/portfolio.
patient’s relatives.
  2. Ensure your non-verbal communication is open
Author and positive, to show that you are ready to
Mags Guest Lecturer in adult nursing and clinical skills, Faculty of listen and engage with the patient. Sit squarely
Health and Social Care, University of Hull, Hull, England. in relation to the patient, and at a similar height
Correspondence to: m.guest@hull.ac.uk, @magsy32 to them, if possible. Lean slightly towards the
patient and do not cross your arms or legs.
Keywords Maintain reasonable and comfortable eye
contact and relax, to help the patient to feel at
active listening, clinical procedures, clinical skills, communication,
ease (Box 1, Figure 1).
introductions, non-verbal communication, nurse-patient relationship,
  3. Ensure your verbal communication is
patient-centred care
appropriate. It is important to ensure that
your tone of voice expresses interest, respect
Contributing to the clinical skills series and empathy, and that it is congruent with the
To write a clinical skills article, please email How.to@rcni.com with a message you are conveying. Consider your pace
synopsis of your idea.
BOX 1
Review
Non-verbal communication considerations:
All articles are subject to external double-blind peer review and SOLER model
checked for plagiarism using automated software.  S – Sit squarely in relation to the other person
 O – Maintain an ‘open’ position and do not cross
Online arms or legs
 L – Lean slightly towards the other person
This ‘How to’ guide is available at: rcni.com/how-to. For related articles
 E – Maintain reasonable and comfortable
search the website using the keywords above. eye contact
 R – Relax
(Egan 2002)

36  june 8 :: vol 30 no 41 :: 2016 NURSING STANDARD


of speaking; this should not be too fast or too begins with the first contact with a patient.
slow. Speak clearly and without using jargon, Similarly for nurses and other healthcare
and at a suitable volume (Box 2). professionals, it is important to communicate
  4. Begin the dialogue by introducing yourself well with patients to ensure optimum outcomes;
by name and briefly explaining your role, for effective communication begins with initial
example: ‘hello, my name is Ben, and I will be introductions.
your nurse for today’. With the patient’s consent, the family often
  5. Ask the patient how they would like to be has an important role in making decisions about
addressed, for example: ‘what may I call you? management of the patient’s condition (National
Would you prefer Mr Hemmings or Ben?’ Institute for Health and Care Excellence 2012).
  6. Ask the patient how they are feeling and if they Therefore, fostering effective relationships based
have any concerns they would like to discuss on mutual trust as early as possible can enhance care
with you. delivery. Failings in communication are known to
  7. Explain the purpose of your interaction to the have a detrimental effect on outcomes and patient
patient. If you are undertaking a particular
procedure, explain the procedure and seek FIGURE 1
consent. For example: ‘I have come to record
SOLER model
your blood pressure as part of your routine
observations. Is that okay?’
  8. Ask the patient if they have any questions. Use
active listening skills by repeating, paraphrasing
and reflecting on what they have said (Box 3).
  9. Answer any questions the patient might have,
remembering to speak in language the patient
will understand and without using jargon.
10. When introductions are completed, ensure you
check with the patient if there is anything else
they require from you, for example: ‘is there
anything else you need before I leave?’
11. Thank the patient and explain what will happen
next. Provide information about how the patient
can contact you or another member of staff if
PETER LAMB

they have any further questions or concerns.

Evidence base
Communication is essential for initiating, developing BOX 2
and maintaining relationships (Sale and Neale
Verbal communication considerations
2014). Therefore, the nurse’s introduction to the
patient forms the basis of the subsequent therapeutic  Tone of voice
relationship. Communication is  Pace of speaking
 Clarity of speech
viewed as the effective transfer of a message and
 Volume of speech
meaning from one person or group to another
(McCorry and Mason 2011). It comprises verbal and (Elcock and Shapcott 2015)
non-verbal communication. Verbal communication
is the spoken word, including how words are spoken BOX 3
(tone, pace, clarity and volume) (Box 2). Non-verbal
communication involves the use of body language, Active listening skills
including posture, facial expressions, gestures and Various ways to clarify and feed back to the patient
individual presentation (Elcock and Shapcott 2015), what has been said include:
and constitutes 85% of all communication (Balzer  Repeating what was said using exactly the same
Riley 2007). Interactions with patients should words the patient used
include verbal and non-verbal communication.  Paraphrasing what was said, using different terms
and phrases to the patient
The purpose of communication between a doctor
 Reflecting the content of the message back to the
and patient is to define therapeutic outcomes, gather patient in your own words
information, and develop a caring and supportive
(Elcock and Shapcott 2015)
relationship (Ha and Longnecker 2010), and this

NURSING STANDARD june 8 :: vol 30 no 41 :: 2016  37 


Art & science clinical skills

experiences, and this is a common reason for communication techniques (Boxes 2 and 3) is
complaints received from patients and important to ensure nurses and other healthcare
carers (Parliamentary and Health Service professionals are communicating with patients
Ombudsman 2011). effectively, thus improving patient experience
There has been an increased awareness of the (Bramhall 2014). Used alongside the simple yet
importance of introductions by healthcare staff effective #hellomynameis tool, initial introductions
before they deliver care. A doctor with terminal enable effective and therapeutic nurse-patient
cancer, while an inpatient, noted that many of the relationships to be formed. Effective care delivery is
healthcare professionals looking after her failed to central to nursing and the patient experience. The
introduce themselves (Granger 2013). As a result, nurse’s initial introduction to a patient forms the
the #hellomynameis Twitter campaign was launched basis of this essential requirement NS
with the aim of encouraging healthcare professionals
to routinely introduce themselves to patients. These Disclaimer: please note that information provided by Nursing
Standard is not sufficient to make the reader competent to
introductions permit therapeutic relationships to be perform the task. All clinical skills should be formally assessed
formed, offering the first step at the bedside by a nurse educator or mentor. It is the nurse’s
to providing person-centred compassionate care. responsibility to ensure their practice remains up to date and
Nurses are required to find effective ways reflects the latest evidence
of communicating with patients (Nursing and
Midwifery Council 2015). A lack of, or ineffective, USEFUL RESOURCE
communication is unprofessional and is a missed
Granger K (2016) #hellomynameis.
opportunity to engage with patients.
hellomynameis.org.uk (Last accessed: May 26 2016.)
Use of communication models (Box 1) and

References
Balzer Riley J (2007) Elcock K, Shapcott J (2015) McCorry LK, Mason J (2011) Parliamentary and Health
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Publications, London, Handling by the NHS in England
Bramhall E (2014) Effective 212-222. National Institute for Health and Care 2010-11. Parliamentary and
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14, 53-59. staff must properly introduce Experience of Care for People using
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