Chapter 2 – Therapeutic Communication and Interviewing
There is a standard way to begin interviews so that the client knows who you are and why you are there.
Introducing yourself and addressing the client
Begin by introducing yourself by name and category to the client, and determine how the client wants to be addressed (CNO, 2019a). It is useful and inclusive to include your own pronouns and ask what pronouns the client uses. For example, a nurse may say, “Hello, I am Mac Li Ken Ji. I am a registered nurse. Please call me Mac. My pronouns are he/him. How would you like me to refer to you and what pronouns do you use?” It is important not to use the term “preference” when referring to pronouns and gender as these are not preferences.
Because registered nurse is a protected title, you can only refer to yourself as a nurse when you are a member of the College (i.e., the College of Nurses of Ontario). If you are a nursing student, you should identify your category based on your institutional requirements. For example, you may consider identifying the year of the nursing program you are in (e.g., nursing student year one, nursing student year two, nursing student year three, nursing student year four). For example, in year one of the program, you may say, “Hello, I am Misa Rodriguez. I am a nursing student year one. I am working with your nurse, David, today.”
Identifying the purpose of the encounter
As per CNO (2019a), part of the introduction phase of the client interview is to identify your role, which involves the purpose of the encounter. You should also notify the client that any information collected will be kept confidential and if applicable, identify who the client’s information will be shared with. Nurses often let clients know that they will also be taking notes.
Here are some examples:
- Example 1: I want to interview you about your illness. It will take about 10 minutes and will begin with me asking you some questions about how you are feeling. Is that okay? [client: yes]. I also want to let you know everything that you share will be kept confidential between myself and the healthcare team who are involved in your care, which currently includes the physicians and the physiotherapists. [client: okay]. Please do note that I will be taking notes as we talk and I will be asking you questions that help me understand how your health concerns and how best to care for you today. If you have any questions, feel free to ask at anytime.
- Example 2: I see that you came into the clinic because you have been coughing. Before the physician comes in, I want to ask you a few questions related to your cough. It will take about 10 minutes. Is that okay? [client: yes]. I also want to let you know everything that you share will be kept confidential between myself and the healthcare team who are involved in your care, which includes myself and your physician at this point. [client: okay]. Please do note that I will be taking notes as we talk and I will be asking you questions that help me understand how you are feeling, your health concerns, and how best to care for you today. If you have any questions about my questions, feel free to stop me and ask.
See Film Clip 2.1 and 2.2 demonstrating an effective and ineffective introduction to the patient interview.
Film Clip 2.1: Effective interview introduction.
Film Clip 2.2: Ineffective interview introduction.
Name and category
As a health professional, you are legally required to introduce yourself by your first and last name and your category. By using your full name, you relay accountability and take responsibility for your work. There are situations when nurses do not use their full name or use a pseudonym, which is permitted as long as the employer is aware and the College of Nurses of Ontario is able to identify you through your employer (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2019c).