Oversharing 101

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As a nurse we all go through the ‘transference’ lecture. We are told to provide compassionate care to our patients, but don’t get ‘attached’ and WHATEVER you do, don’t make it personal. You can be personable, but be sure to maintain the lines of professionalism throughout the delivery of your care.

*clearing my throat*

Hogwash I say.

This has always been a ‘sensitive’ subject for me as a nurse, since I don’t believe anything they warn you about in nursing school about transference. I think we all have the brain capacity to understand when we are oversharing or crossing the professional lines. To not ‘share’ with our patient denies your patient the very thing that separates our profession from all others. No other profession gets to do this on a consistent basis. We get to share. We get to make that human connection that others only hear about. By sharing with our patients we strengthen that bond and relationship. The patient trusts us more, the patient’s confidence in our skills and knowledge increases, and by golly the patients actually enjoy our presence.

As opposed to the opposite. If you don’t share on some small level with our patient and find that common ‘human’ ground, your patient will not find the need or want to share their health and medical challenges with you, they will grow weary of your ability to care for them properly, and well they just won’t want you around. Lets face it, the skill set of a nurse are not discredited simply because you didn’t ‘share’, but the patient’s perception is there reality folks. Convincing a patient you are qualified to do the job takes more than simply hand-eye coordination. The last one is important for many other reasons, but mostly to keep the communication lines open and free. I don’t think I need to comment on how difficult it is to care for a patient when communication breaks down.

We have the professional responsibility to do the job we were hired for, but in order to do that job effectively their HAS to be a level of personal ‘touch’ that augments the whole didactic relationship.

I can’t honestly think of having any other type of relationship with my patients?

Do I tell them my inner most personal secrets? Divulge the hush-hush things I only tell my family or close friends? Confide in them my most personal feeling?

Good grief no!

That’s the key. You need to know the limit. There is sharing, then there is oversharing. In this day and age of the internet, social media status updates, and mega-information overload out there, I think everyone understands the boundaries. The difference is, some don’t know how to stay within those boundaries.

If you’re unsure, then that is cause enough to not do it (or say it).There is a fine balance between sharing and oversharing. A word to the wise would be to stay in control of the ‘distance’ you have between you and your patients. It’s really that simple.

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7 Responses to Oversharing 101

  1. August

    I agree with this 100%. I am a male nurse on a specialty unit in a nursing home, so the fact that my patients and I discuss alot builds that relationship. If I can’t share with them, why should they share with me? I like this blog.

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ August I’m glad you like the blog. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Russ Babbitt

    I also agree with your article very much. I think the majority of us know what’s okay to share and where to draw the line. If your patient knows you have experience a procedure they may need, or you’ve been through some of the same things they’re going through, it definitely is a reassurance to them, and strengthens the bond. You can do this without giving them your entire medical history, and only sharing what’s essential.

  4. Jenn

    I totally agree with this. As an L&D nurse of 13 years and having experienced labor twice as a mother, it definitely makes a difference when I can share my experiences with my patients. Especially with those first time moms who are scared and nervous about what is happening. Their level of trust goes up and their fear is decreased. These help to make their experience more relaxed and positive rather than tense and negative.

  5. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @Russ Absolutely right! I couldn’t agree more.

    @ Jenn It’s amazing how much more at ease patients become.

  6. Renea

    I also absolutely agree. While I have only been a nurse for a little over 2 years, I find that it is very hard for me NOT to share some of my personal experienced with the patients. Especially when they ask about a specific doctor or surgeon that I have dealt with in my past or my family. I am not going to not share that with them to ease their minds!! I also find it hard not to get attached to the patients, especially those “frequent flyers” who are there for the right reasons. Because they are sick. Thanks so much for allowing us to share our thoughts with you!!

  7. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Renea So glad you are learning early on that how you feel matters as much as how they feel. Good for you! And you are welcome.