Thursday 10 August 2017

I don’t know about you, but I’m irritable when I’m sick (just ask my husband). And that’s in the comfort of my own home with people I’m know taking care of me. Now imagine having a life threatening illness, in a sterile environment, completely depending on strangers who don’t know your preferences for medications, food, and even bathing. Then getting bad news on top of that.

Nurse, Nurse-Patient Relationship

It’s no wonder there can be tension in the nurse-patient relationship. Fortunately, those who pursue a career in nursing have the rare ability to provide compassionate care for patients at their worst. Here are some key skills to help you nurture the nurse-patient relationship and make everyone’s lives a lot easier:


As nurses, we often feel obligated to have all the answers, when in fact, the most important skill we can master is listening. When someone is in pain, sometimes they don’t want solutions, they just want to be heard. So before responding to a distraught patient or family, take the time to listen. You may actually find that listening—without interruption or response—is all it takes to resolve an issue.


After taking the time to listen, let the patient know what you understood. Repeating back what they said in your own words shows them how they feel is acknowledged and valid. At the same time, it gives patients a chance to hear what they’ve said and expand on it if necessary. This reflection period is an important step in building a trusting, therapeutic nurse-patient relationship


Once you’re both on the same page, thank the patient for sharing their concerns with you. It can feel very risky to share emotions—especially if they’re already feeling vulnerable. Make sure patients understand that expressing their concerns is welcome and appreciated.


Once you’ve established an emotional connection you can move onto more practical ways of implementing a solution. Work together to develop a plan that meets the patient’s individual needs, and adjust it accordingly based on his or her input. Verbalize what will happen step by step. Now it’s time to have your patient repeat back the plan of action to you. Research shows patients retain less than half of what is said to them. You want to make sure they leave with a solid grasp on all the information they’ve received and can assimilate proper treatment into their life.

Review and resolve

Summarize the main objective to the patient as well as the exact next step they are to take once they leave the hospital. Answer any remaining questions the patient might have, and let them know they can call any time if more should arise. Also, offer to follow-up with them later.

Mastering the nurse-patient relationship is a crucial and ongoing part of your journey towards becoming a registered nurse. Along with its challenges come several more rewards.  


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