Give it a Shot!
It’s National Immunization Awareness Month. Yippee! That means we get to debate whether we should or shouldn’t, right? Wrong! We’re certainly not going in that direction, as I do not fancy a hoard of impassioned moms seeking me out to give me a piece of their minds. Nope! Instead, we’re going to take a rather neutral route in honor of this month, by offering tips on how nurses can calm patients before a shot. You know how it goes. Patient comes in sweaty, pale, and shaking, but doesn’t have the flu. They’re simply terrified of the needle. Here’s what you’ll want to do to effectively calm them.
1. Talk It Through
Everyone wants to feel validated. Being fearful of needles is a big deal for some patients, and letting them know that you understand them, and that you have their back is the first step in setting them at ease. So have a little chat. False reassurances are never the way to go. Instead, tell them the shot WILL hurt just a bit, but that you will administer it as quick as possible to minimize the pain. Another great idea is to discuss an immediate pain management plan. Have an icepack prepared to numb the pain and instruct your patient to rub the sore area.
2. Deep Breaths
Once your patient knows you’ve got their back, do some breathing exercises. Breathe in…1,2,3,4 and breathe ouuuut…1,2,3,4. Breathe in…1,2,3,4 and breathe ouuuut…1,2,3,4. All through the nose. Anything to avoid a full blown panic attack, right?? Also, as an FYI, which I’m pretty sure you already know, ‘cuz well, duh, you’re a nurse…calming breaths helps patients relax their muscles, which in turn makes the shot less painful.
3. Reward your patients
Ok, so this nugget of advice is pretty much only for the little guys and gals, and it almost always works. If you get a stubborn one, no promises here! In short, promise them the world. Ok, not the world, but a cool sticker, a funky lolly, a novelty prize…you get my flow here. Try and get mom and dad in on it too. If they can promise a trip to the toy store or ice cream store, girl, you’re golden and this shot should take 1,2,3! You just want that kid focusing on the positive:)
Finally, you’ll want to divert a patient’s attention elsewhere. It works like a CHARM! Young children enjoy silly songs, stories, as well as fun games such as I Spy. For older children, and adults, simply make light conversation. How’s school? What are your hobbies? What’s your favorite movie? What do you do for a living? What are your plans for the weekend? Listen up, though, the key component here is to very nonchalantly give the shot mid song, story, game, conversation etc. Your patient will barely notice what just happened. Pinky swear!
Go ahead, give these tips a shot (yes, I had to), and let us know down below how it all went!