Your relationship with your nurse can have a huge impact on your health, comfort and happiness. Nurses provide more than TLC – they are also responsible for much of the healthcare you receive while in the hospital.
Although doctors prescribe medications, order tests, interpret results and make treatment decisions, it is up to the nurses to make sure the patient receives proper care, including administering the right medication at the right time, responding to medical equipment alarms, and keeping patients safe.
The nurse-patient relationship is critical.
The relationship between the nurse and the patient/family is critical – a positive relationship can actually improve patient care.
Patients, families and nurses are all stressed.
Although the patient-nurse relationship is vital, it takes work on both sides for this relationship to flourish.
Nurses consistently feel stressed and burnt out. They work long hours under stressful conditions, and often have to deal with patients and families who come across as demanding and unpleasant. Conversely, patients (and their families) are often exhausted and worried, which can make anyone short tempered and “snappy”.
Nurses must cope with bullying.
On top of the stresses of a demanding job, many nurses experience bullying – from doctors, patients and other nurses. Unfortunately, this bullying can impact the quality of care provided.
Don’t be part of the problem. Realize the strain nurses face every day and treat them with kindness. For more information, read Does Nurse Bullying Impact Patients?
Work on the relationship – it’s worth it.
Nurses and patients benefit when families are involved in the process. Therefore, it’s definitely worth the time and effort to build a good rapport with your nurses.
The key to a good relationship with your nurses, like any other relationship in your life, is communication. Patients, families and nurses should treat each other with courtesy and respect and truly listen to what others say.
Unfortunately, a lack of respect was cited by nurses to be one of the largest contributors to their stress. Of course, it’s a two-way street – patients and families can feel disrespected as well.
How to make your relationship with your nurse as smooth as possible?
What can patients and families do to enhance this relationship and therefore get the best care possible? Follow these suggestions:
- Patients and families should ask as many questions as they need in order to stay informed about the patient’s condition and care. But, be sure you ask any questions in a respectful manner.
- Patients and families should not insist on dictating care. If you think the patient would benefit from a different approach, get a second opinion from another nurse or doctor.
- Families should provide insight into the patient’s personality to help the nurses better understand the patient.
- Family members should ask nurses what role they can play in helping with the patient’s care. For instance, families can keep the patient comfortable, and make sure the patient does not get out of bed without help. Additionally, if nurses do not arrive after a bedside alarm, family can alert the nursing staff that the patient needs help.
- Patients and families should speak up if something doesn’t seem right. Family members who are with a loved one in the hospital for an extended period of time are in a unique position to notice errors or safety risks. In fact, a recent study found that parents of hospitalized children often noticed medical errors that their doctors and nurses missed.
- If you find that you cannot get along with a particular nurse, ask to speak with the charge nurse (supervisor). Ask if he/she can change the assignments so you can avoid shifts with this particular nurse. Beware that this can be a difficult proposal, so ask nicely and have some detailed information on unpleasant encounters to backup your request.
My final thoughts.
Developing a good relationship with your nurse is worth your time and efforts. Treat your nursing team the way you hope others treat you – with respect and courtesy. And providing cookies or doughnuts will never hurt.
Even with the best nurse-patient relationships, hospitals pose risks to patients. Read these posts to learn how to reduce your risk of issues:
- How to Choose a Hospital.
- Nurse Stress and Fatigue Can Impact Your Health.
- Germs in Hospitals and Doctor Offices – Watch Out!
- The Dangers of Missed Bedside Alarms.
- The Benefits of Participating in Hospital Rounds.
- Medication Errors in Hospitals – How Can You Protect Yourself?
- How Hospital Patients Can Resolve Problems.
- What’s Your Hospital’s Safety Record? Is Your Hospital Safe?