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Apprehensive Patients during Screening
Screenings, doctor appointments, and medical tests are an unavoidable part of life, and they are necessary to stay healthy. However, everyone’s experience with these procedures is different. Some patients are apprehensive, and some are not. Most of my experiences are associated with women’s screening for cervical cancer. The more an individual waits before getting screened, the more apprehensive they become. Most women, especially those between ages 20-25, were not comfortable because of the invasive nature of the procedure. Malatesta’s (2008) study confirmed that apprehension increases proportionately with the level of discomfort, hesitation, ignorance, and maturity.
Before undertaking a pap smear during a cervical cancer-free screening program, a lady aged 25 years old seemed so uncomfortable before the test. When I asked her what she was worried about, she said she had never done it before and that it was an intimate part of her body under examination. She went ahead and explained that she had been told it was painful. Women who have not participated in pap smears before are often embarrassed and primarily concerned about the pain. The physical nature of the screening made her uncomfortable. It appeared that her feelings of apprehension were mainly linked to experiences based on the discomfort she believed she would experience. However, this was not the case for women who had gone through this procedure, proving Malatesta’s (2008) point that apprehension increased with the level of ignorance. Lack of awareness limits one’s expectation hence increased anticipation. Reading about pap smears and knowing how they are administered will help limit the feeling of apprehensiveness. Additionally, younger women were more apprehensive than older women. The patient earlier described it was cautious about the physicality of the screening; hence, she was more concerned about what individuals would think of her. Apprehension, therefore, diminished with age advancement.
Nonetheless, it is our job to ensure that individual experiences are less traumatizing and more beneficial to the patient. For the earlier described patient, the first helpful action was active listening. It helped prevent the patient from turning to a relief-behavior mode such as withdrawal (Feo et al., 2017). I introduced myself and oriented her about pap-smears, their benefits, concerns, how it is done, and how to read outcomes. I also showed her the equipment to be used. She seemed calmer and opened up about her imaginations on how a pap smear tool would appear. She confirmed that her imaginations were much scarier than what she saw. I engaged her in conversations about her work and any family she had to show her that I was interested in her as a person and not just a patient (Feo et al., 2017). Since a safe space was already developed, she was comfortable sharing. After some minutes, the screening was done.
FNPs interact with anxious and apprehensive individuals daily. Therefore, it is critical to developing skills to help deal with apprehension. For other females, it is not easy taking a pap smear because anxiety makes it challenging. There are many causes of anxiety, such as fear of the unknown. FNPs help by taking the patient through ways to make the test more manageable, such as comfortable positions and smaller speculums to reduce pain. FNP’ experience makes them experts who will not care about sexual history, body shape, or underwear.
Malatesta, G. (2008). Exploring the Pap smear experiences of women aged 18 to 25: Moving from intention to action. Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=…
Feo, R., Rasmussen, P., Wiechula, R., Conroy, T., &Kitson, A. (2017). Developing effective and caring nurse-patient relationships. Nursing Standard (2014+), 31(28), 54