You asked for it...Tips for Nurses

"When I came into the hospital, I was scared, and even though I was nine years old, I still sucked my thumb. Thanks for not embarrassing me about it, and for putting the IV in my other arm!"

"You didn't tell me that you were leaving and that somebody else was going to be my nurse 'til I went to sleep. I wish you would have told me goodbye, and told me about the new nurse." 

"When I didn't feel like drinking and everyone was mad at me, you told me that we could have a tea party. Then you poured the juice into two little medicine cups--one for me, and one for you. That was fun, and I was able to drink three of them!" 

"I think that you should tell kids what the words mean that you use. Here are some that sure confused me...'n.p.o., stool, ambulate, and catheter'." 

"My parents had to go home because of my two little brothers, and I was scared. My room mate had gone home, too. You let me help you instead of making me stay alone in my room. I hope all kids get to have you for their nurse. " 

"I needed to get an x-ray, and I was afraid that my Daddy wouldn't find me when he came to visit. You told me that you would put a big sign on my door that he wouldn't miss to tell him where I was. That was great, because he saw it, and he didn't worry about me!" 

"If you can't get an IV in my vein in one stick, just forget about it! My Mom said that my arm looks like a pincushion!" 

"Well, here's a tip. My nurse took me on a fantasy trip when my back was hurting a lot. We went on a magic carpet ride, and visited wonderful calm places. I had never done that before, and it made me feel so much better. Please take everybody in the hospital on fantasy trips when they're not feeling good!" 

"Without you, the hospital system would crumble. You are such a source of care, of compassion and of love for all of us. You are shining lights in this bewildering darkness. "

"When I had to get stitches taken out, you stayed with me and helped me blow bubbles. What a strange thing to do in a hospital. I think that this is the greatest tip, though. It really helped me!"

"To all nurses, please be kind and understanding, just like my nurse. When everyone else was cross with me for crying, she was the only one who came and talked to me and asked me what was wrong. It made me feel a lot better and then everyone wasn't mad with me any more."

“I wish you would use my type of words when they talk to me. Stools are definitely not something I thought I was supposed to give someone to test, and what’s with this flushing ivies?”

"Thank you for not stabbing me with the needle and for telling me that it wouldn't hurt once it was in. You were very gentle when you poked my arm, and I really appreciated it."

" You told me you’d be back in a few minutes to do a dressing change. I spent the whole time wondering what sort of clothes you were going to make me wear. Please remember to teach me about all these odd words.” 

" I had great nurses! Instead of waking me up at night for a respiratory treatment by turning on the lights, one of them would whistle my favorite song really softly and the other one would tap my cheek ever so lightly---if I didn't wake up, she'd just slipped on the mask gently and carefully. I hope that you'll use one of their tricks for kids. They work!"

"I've found that something very amusing to do in the hospital is to keep a journal of your silly thoughts or even your most private ones, decorate it, and share it with someone.  On my longest stay in the hospital, I had a nurse who helped me do one.  It's really fun and gives the adults the kid's point of view."

"If teenagers are preparing for a big procedure, please talk to them by themselves. There may be some questions they wouldn't be comfortable asking in front of their parents. I'm not saying that parents shouldn't be involved - they should. I'm just saying that you need to respect your patients' privacy, and talking to them alone is a good wayto do that. If you do that, believe me, they'll feel like they are more in control.  It's scary when you life seems to be spinning out of control, you know that?"

"I wish that you and the doctors would talk to one another.  And when you need to take blood, think about how it must feel, because it is not easy."

"I wish all my RNs knew that when my oxygen sats drop it feels like something hurts but I can't tell what exactly. I tell my nurse that I'm in pain, but I can't locate where the pain is. The nurse, understandably, isn't quite sure how to help. I never realized before what was really going I couldn't just say I feel like I'm desaturating.  Now I know, so wanted you to, too!"

Please, please, please... if you're asking questions about how I feel, what's going on with my body, or any of that, ask ME.
I'm the one feeling it, how can my dad tell you that?

Yes I really am 17. Being sick has stunted my growth. I know I'm short! Treat me like the responsible human being I am, please....

The first time I went in for an iron infusion (I'm anaemic) I was worried, and tired. It meant sitting in hospital for the whole day, missing school, and not being able to do anything. You put my drip up and were great: you told me about the infusion, showed me what it looked like, explained how it worked, and even decided to put it in my arm instead of my hand allowing me to move. I even managed to do some work while I was there. You also kept coming to check up on me - something you didn't have to do as it was just a drip.
Sadly my second infusion was much worse. I miss you!

When sticking needles in me, remember all the times you had to have injections.  Oh, and when you stick them in my muscles they HURT.

The plan was for me to go home Friday and my whole family was excited. Well.... everyone except me. I was still having a lot of pain and that freaked me out. I was afraid the infection was back in full force, but I also felt like I had to be happy about going home. I was relieved when you took my aside and asked what was wrong. Also, thanks for talking to my doctor for me. I didn't enjoy re-doing the labs and x-rays but it was way better than the possibility of another trip to the ER.

  <>I have CP. most of the time people with CP have the same startle reflex as babies even when they are older. When I get scared I cover my ears, I always have. When I lie on my back my arms want to be back and up the way a baby's do too. So, I really appreciated it when you put my IV in my hand instead of my forearm.

You help me feel strong!

I'll carry you over to the sitemap. 

Do you have some other tips for nurses? If you do, I hope that you'll mail them to me in this envelope. 

Can't wait to read what you have to say!

Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: June 2, 2008