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Five Tips to Improve Patient-Nurse Relationships

Five Tips to Improve Patient-Nurse Relationships


by Greta Kviklyte

Life Saver, AMC

posted on Jan 31, 2017, at 4:30 pm


A CAREER IN NURSING CAN BE EXCITING, FULFILLING AND HEART-WARMING, but there will be times when you feel like you dropped the ball or simply failed to meet your patients’ expectations. There will be times when you cannot do what a patient requests, so you need to know how you can strengthen patient-nurse relationships.

doctor using pressure gauge

Building Patient-Nurse Relationships

1. Set Boundaries, and Be a Care Advocate.

The key to many relationships is setting acceptable, reasonable boundaries. In caring for patients, you should explain what you can and cannot do clearly.

For example, when you first meet a patient at work, communicate your name, title and role in his or her care for the next shift. This may include touching on the following:

  • Expected time for the next dosage of medications.
  • Daily activity needs, such as bathing or dressing.
  • Current pain assessment.

You must also be a care advocate for your patients. Sometimes, people do fall through the cracks, and you can help prevent this by recognizing uncompleted physician orders, problems with medical recommendations for specific patients or unaddressed health complaints.

2. Be Genuine, Compassionate and Empathetic.

Patients respond to kind, genuine and empathic caregivers. It helps them connect their situations to you, and you can leverage this to build rapport and trust. Moreover, it will encourage patients to report problems they experience and request assistance when needed, preventing falls or other incidents from occurring. This is key to avoiding spending excessive time answering continuous call-light requests. Most importantly, you need to talk to the person, not just the patient. It takes a bit of extra time, but you might learn that you are not as different from your patients as you appear to be.

3. Highlight Your Knowledge and Skill Without Boasting.

Never be afraid to show you knowledge and skills to patients, but you must avoid arrogance. Explain that you know how to perform a given procedure or task in a soothing voice, including all relevant details of what you intend to do. In fact, a 2002 study, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine, found nurses that explain their background and experience in different care settings were more likely to have better relationships with patients. If the patient continues to object, consider asking a coworker to help you. It is not a judgement on your capabilities; it is the patient’s fear of growing more ill than he or she already is.

4. Respect Your Patients’ Wishes.

Some patients may refuse treatment, and except in specific legal circumstances, you have an ethical obligation to respect their wishes. This may include serious, life-changing decisions, ranging from political health discussions to end-of-life care. Respecting a patient will earn his or her trust faster than becoming a sparring partner.

5. Acknowledge Your Mistakes.

You will make mistakes. You might forget to bring medications on time, or you could accidentally spill water on a freshly-changed hospital gown. It is important that you apologize and acknowledge your mistakes to the patient or family members that are involved in his or her care. To err is human, but to be arrogant is to destroy any hope you have of a positive patient-nurse relationship.

Never Stop Working to Build Strong Patient-Nurse Relationships.

Even when you have patients who push your patience to the limit, do not get discouraged. Every new patient, day and moment is an opportunity to build a stronger patient-nurse relationship. Start using these tips today, and think about what else you might use to build a stronger relationship with tomorrow’s patients.

About Greta

Greta loves travelling, exploring new countries and cultures, enjoys making healthy desserts, hiking, camping and being close to nature. She graduated from Vilnius University with a degree in Marketing and Global Business and studied in Slovakia, Portugal as an exchange student, and is currently residing in Vilnius, Lithuania


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