National Nurses Week, advice for patients

April 29, 2013

For sound advice on how to make your next medical visit easier, whom better to ask than the people making it happen – nurses. Numbering more than 3 million nationwide, nurses not only comprise the largest workforce in the health care industry, but a recent Gallup poll also shows they’re the most trusted profession.

In honor of National Nurses Week, May 6-12, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing faculty provide these tips for patients:

  • Come prepared – Your physician will need to know everything about your past and present medical conditions, allergies, current medications (including vitamins and over-the-counter medications), and other physicians you have seen (and when). Have this information readily available – even type up beforehand – and bring it with you to the appointment. Health care staff can use this information to complete forms and decrease repetitive questions.
  • Bring a trusted family member or friend – When discussing our health, we often can get overwhelmed and forget important questions to ask. Someone who knows you well can remind you of topics to discuss and guide you when overloaded with information. Make sure you discuss those topics before your appointment so you’re on the same page.
  • Ask questions – Direct questions can get you the answers you are really seeking. When in doubt, use the National Patient Safety Foundation’s “Ask Me 3” approach, a quick and effective tool designed to improve health communication between you and your health care provider. Ask these three simple questions at your next visit: What is my pain problem? What do I need to do? Why is it important for me to do this? Repeat back what you hear to ensure you correctly interpreted your condition, diagnosis and care plan. Remember, if you don’t understand the answers the first time, it’s OK to ask for clarification.


National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6, designated RN Recognition Day, and ends May 12 on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of nursing as a modern profession. This week highlights the diverse ways in which registered nurses work to save lives and improve the health of individuals worldwide, so thank a nurse who has made an impact in your life or life of a loved one.

— Holly Shive

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