The post-is reads ‘finding that spark for engaging with patients, especially young adults’.
All ages can be difficult to engage with, but the young adults from 13-22 are especially hard. It is like a forcefield of apathy.
Recently I had a young adult patient who was scared out of their mind about the impending surgery. No conversational gambits worked. Not even the usual: school, pets, siblings. Nothing, they just sat their, unmoving. Except for their eyes that saw everything.
I usually talk school; what grade, favorite subject, exams.
For the younger crowd I try siblings, or pets.
Tried those too.
I made a comment to the surgeon, away from the patient, while they were being interviewed by anesthesia. A comment about the soon to be released newest Marvel movie. The surgeon and I are big fans, and always talk plot points, and acting choices, and actor critiques.
To my surprise, the patient turned their head toward us and blurted out that they wanted to see that movie too!
Completely different patient, with one stray comment that wasn’t even directed at them.
Two lessons reinforced
- patients are ALWAYS listening
- Marvel transcends fear
We spent the next ten minutes talking superheroes until it was time to head back to the OR.
And picked up with the conversation after surgery was over and they were a bit more awake.
And chatted happily about heroes, and villains.
There is always a lever to get a patient to talk to you.
It is just a matter of finding it.