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Nurses: Bedside Manner Matters

Difficult patients are nothing nice to deal with, but it isn’t easy for patients to deal with cold, indifferent health professionals either.


We know that most nurses have a good heart, but they also have a lot of things to do. Catering to a patient’s feelings doesn’t always make the top of the list and no one blames you, but there’s always room for improvement.

As a nurse, you see tons of people at their worst each day. Patients, on the other hand, often have limited experiences with nurses, doctors and hospitals outside of regular checkups. They may be afraid and have heightened emotions.

They may feel alone in the face of a health crisis.

Then here we come, poking, prodding, and delivering news that they don’t always understand.

Sometimes, we don’t communicate things to them the same way we would if the patient was our mother, or our daughter.

Being distant or busy may be a method of coping with your workload or focusing on the task at hand, we get it.

This is merely a reminder that a little bit of compassion can go a long way. So here are three tips to improve your bedside manner.


Give Your Full Attention, If Only For a Moment

When you’re talking to a patient, it’s easy to be focusing on the next task on the list as opposed to really being present and listening, but your patient can pick up on that. If they can’t trust that you’re valuing them, they might not trust you, resulting in them withholding information about their issue. That affects your ability to give the best care possible.

So even if you only have a minute or two to spare with your interaction with them, really listen to what they’re saying, and face toward them, because your body language speaks volumes also. Let them know what you can about their condition or situation, be hopeful if there’s room for positivity, and let them know you have to follow up with your other patients, but you will be back at a designated time.


Don’t Rule Anything Out, Or  Dismiss Google Self Diagnosers

Every nurse, doctor and healthcare professional has had to deal with the consequences of the Google age---people thinking they already have  their diagnosis because they read about it on WebMd.

As annoying as that can be, everyone wants to have an idea of what’s going on with them when they’re not well. Secondly, sometimes, they are right. And even if they aren’t, being familiar with exactly what symptoms they are experiencing allows you to focus on the appropriate treatment.

So never argue with a patient or tell them how wrong they are. Instead, get them to focus on the symptoms they’re experiencing, then work with the doctor to run tests and diagnose. This will build trust between you and your patient, plus so you can help solve the issue more quickly.

Be Kind

No one is a robot. It may not be plausible for you to smile at all of your patients 24/7, but if a smile isn’t in your heart, find other kind gestures to show that you are empathetic and rooting for your patient.

Even if your patient isn’t the friendliest, remember, they’re ill in one way or another. Telling a cheesy joke, giving a little wink or any kind of positive energy can be rather contagious, especially when patients are in a condition that leaves them hungry for some sort of hope. More often than not, a friendly nod, or even a brief, encouraging anecdote and sincere understanding can go a long way in their outlook and recovery.

Improving your bedside manner not only is good for your patients, but its good for you and your career. The late great poet Maya Angelou once said, ““I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Nothing feels better than feeling cared for, but making someone feel cared for comes in pretty close.

Remember these tips as your caring for patients and watch how fulfilling it can be for the both of you.


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