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    Nursing your English (and your patients) to better health

    thI’ve taught a lot of non-native speaker nurses in my time, and they all possessed an admirable level of medical knowledge and English. What some of them really needed were all those everyday, practical phrases that nurses use in their daily interaction with patients. The phrases that get the job done and build rapport with those they are taking care of. Yesterday, thanks to Kim Dammers on LinkedIn, I came across this great list of common phrases for nursing. What’s more, the list was originally compiled by nurses for nurses – so it couldn’t be more authentic and practical.

    Hope it is useful to all you wonderful nurses out there who are tirelessly looking after all our loved ones! Thanks heaps!

    Nurses’ Phrases –also useful for doctors

    Compiled from American nurses by Kim Dammers 

    “Say aah” [for checking the mouth using a tongue depressor]
    “Is it tender?”
    “Does it hurt when I touch it / do this?”
    “Are you in any pain?”
    “Where does it hurt?”
    “When does it hurt?”
    “You will need to go to [the pharmacy/X-ray/...].”
    “How long have you had this problem?”
    “This will hurt a little.”

    “I’m going to take your temperature / blood pressure now.”
    “Please roll over/onto your left/right side.”
    “Please lie down on your back/side/stomach.”

    “Please lower/take off your pants[US]/trousers[UK/US] {and/but not your underpants[US]/pants [UK].

    “Now turn around.”
    “Cover your left/right eye.”
    “Please fill out these/this form/s.
    I will help you.”
    “Please put on this gown.”
    “Bend over.”
    “Take a deep breath.”
    “Who is your next of kin and how can we contact them?”
    “Who is your primary physician?”
    “How will you be paying?”
    “What medical insurance do you have?”
    “Please hold still [while I ...].”
    “Are you in any pain?”
    “When was your last BM?”
    “The doctor says you shouldn’t (insert task).”
    “The doctor will be with you in a moment/shortly/ in about ____ minutes.”

    “Please wait here.”
    “Come with me, please.”
    “This won’t hurt, but it may be a little uncomfortable.”

    “I need you to wake up so I can (insert task).”
    “How much did you eat/drink today?”

    How would you rate your pain? 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you have ever felt
    Is there anything else I can get you?
    Do you have any allergies to medication? Latex? Shellfish?

    You’ll feel a poke now.
    Hi my name is _____, I’ll be your nurse today.
    Take a deep breath.
    Cough.
    Did you have a bowel movement today.
    Any pain or burning when you urinate.

    (Any type of positive therapeutic communication technique)
    How does that make you feel?
    So you say your ………..
    I see.
    I’ll be with you as soon as I can.
    This will hurt a little.
    Here’s your nurse’s call button.

    When you reinsert the oxygen cannula, the prongs must be pointing down and not up.
    Visiting hours are over at 8:00 p.m.
    Are you using your incentive spirometer?
    You put what? Where?
    Here, have a sip of water.
    Please use your call bell.
    Please don’t pick at your dressing.
    Because the doctor said so…
    Sorry to spoil the party, but visiting hours are over.
    I’m sorry, no overnight visitors allowed.
    If you do that again, I’ll have to restrain you.
    Are you taking any over the counter or prescription medication?

    Please describe your pain. Is it dull or sharp? Does it radiate?
    What was different about the pain (that you say you’ve experienced for the
    past 3 months) tonight that made you come to the ER?

    Will you have help at home?
    Does your home have stairs?
    Has your appetite changed? Are you one a special diet?
    Are you experiencing diarrhea or constipation, and if you are or have in
    the past, how do you treat it?
    Do you have a history of……seizures, headaches, chest pain, SOB, etc.
    Have you ever had ____ (e.g., an EKG) before?

    What surgeries / surgery have you had in the past?
    Could you rate the pain from a 1 to a 10, 10 being the worse.
    When was the last time you were out of bed?

    How much do you smoke per day? Half to one pack per day.

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