What Do You Talk About When You Round?

What you say when you round matters.  Ugh.  Another pressure. 

We know nurses can see right through us when we try to connect with them and we’re not real about it.

Nurses know when we are collecting data about them Vs when we are really interested in them.

Here is where your personal style comes into play … Do you tend to ask nurses about the personal or the professional aspects of who they are?

Here are 2 distinctions to think about when making real connections with nurses: 

Personal topics approach:

In the course of a short conversation- or over a series of conversations with the same nurse-  you may find out what the nurse does for self-care,  if they have kids,  if they are going to school,  and about other family or community obligations they may have.

Professional topics approach:

In the course of a short conversation you find out what was special about this or that patient?  What they had learned about a patient that was special to the nurse? Or what the nurse had learned from the experience of caring for a particular patient?

Both topics yield real connection … or opens the door to connection.  But the message is a little different to the nurse depending on which approach.

My manager connects with me about my family  Vs  My manager connects with me about my patients

My manager cares about me as a person  Vs  My manager cares about me as a nurse

My manager cares about me personally  Vs  My manager cares about me professionally


Examples of different approaches: 

I remember reading years ago about a leader who was identified as the Leader of the Year in a journal.  She knew all the personal things about her staff … and did a lot of nurturing, coaching and tough love.  That is cool.  The unit metrics showed high clinical and patient outcomes and staff moral.

Just recently, I heard a presentation by members of  a self governance committee who organized social events for their clinical unit.  They filled an annual calendar with social activities that brought staff and families together to bond and build relationships.  Their efforts had gone on for over a year. They measured their turnover rate before and after.   They were exuberant. The calendar schedule and pictures were impressive. The bonding was evident, and yes, their turnover did decline.

I wrote recently about a Caritas leader who has been successful in transforming clinical practice cultures. Her focus is both personal and professional with her nurses. At the core of her leadership are caring practices.  Her conversations focus on caring behaviors, staff collaboration and sharing of their experiences.  And as a plus, she keeps busy, trying to keep up with her nurses’ social calendar of staff, family, and community gatherings.


Real connection with nurses can take many shapes.

I’m realizing that there is a distinction between

nurse satisfaction with their jobs  Vs  fulfillment as a nurse through their work 

Of course there is overlap, but they are not the same. 

Just as the 2 approaches described above have overlap, but they are not the same. 


image courtesy of istock photo.com


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *