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Things You Can Do to Strengthen Nurse-Patient Relationships

There is a population with trust issues. They are the ones who have been hurt, lied to, abandoned, and disappointed.

They’ve had their hopes dashed and their expectations unmet. Sadly, that’s also relevant to medical care. These patients often come into the hospital negatively, feeling that they can’t trust their doctors or nurses.

CDC reports that 20-30 percent of prescriptions for chronic diseases are never filled, and 50 percent of patients don’t take their medications as prescribed. 

Why could that be? Is it because they don’t understand the importance? Is it the cost? Or is it that they don’t trust healthcare providers?

Whatever their reasons, the responsibility of fostering a trusting relationship with your patients lies with you. So, how can you do that?

  • Obtain Knowledge to Offer Your Best:

A silent contract is agreed upon when a patient steps into a medical facility. They are placing their lives in your hands, and you promise to do everything you can to help them.

That’s a pretty big deal. So, you must ensure that you are up-to-date on the latest treatments and procedures. 

You also need to be able to answer their questions and address their concerns in a way that builds confidence instead of creating more anxiety.

FNPs, especially, have to wear many hats. They are medical experts, teachers, counselors, and sometimes even cheerleaders. 

It’s a lot to take in, but it’s what their patients need them to be. Luckily, a Family Nurse Practitioner online program offers courses that help FNPs learn how to communicate better with their patients.

  • Always Offer Respect:

We all know how many hours a patient waits to see a doctor or how often they’re told, “It’ll be just a few more minutes.” It can be frustrating for them, and understandably so. 

But that doesn’t give them the right to be rude or disrespectful to you. In turn, always offer them respect, no matter how they behave.

It’s also important to note that enforcing friendliness isn’t always taken in the way you mean it. So, be cautious about how you go about doing this. 

Some patients prefer a quiet, more subdued nurse, while others want someone chatty and bubbly. It all depends on the person.

  • Make a Connection:

You are a human being caring for other human beings. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s also an incredible privilege. And with that comes the opportunity to connect with your patients.

You need to remember that your patients are more than just their illnesses. They have lives, families, jobs, and hobbies. 

Getting to know them on a personal level not only helps to build trust but also makes the entire experience more pleasant for everyone involved.

Of course, there are always going to be patients who are difficult to connect with. But, making an effort is always worth it.

  • Don’t Let Your Issues Affect the Relationship:

Everyone has bad days. Whether it was an argument with your boss, a fight with your spouse, or you’re just feeling under the weather, we all have our moments. 

However, when you’re at work, you must leave your issues at the door. Your patients count on you to be there for them, and they deserve your undivided attention. 

If you’re having a tough day, that’s fine. Just don’t let it show. Ask a colleague to cover for you if it’s uncharacteristically bad.

The bottom line is that your patients should always feel like they are your number one priority.

  • Don’t Make Promises:

Seeing someone suffer is never easy. And, when you’re the one responsible for their care, it can be even more challenging. In these moments, it’s only natural to want to say something to make them feel better.

However, it’s essential to be careful about the promises you make. If there’s a chance you can’t deliver on what you say, it’s better to keep quiet. 

Making false promises will only damage the trust between you and your patient. For instance, if you promise a cancer patient that you’ll find a cure, and it turns out you can’t, they will feel misled and disappointed.

  • Acknowledge Their Emotions:

You, as a nurse, might have your issues to deal with. But are those issues bigger than a life-threatening diagnosis? Probably not. So, putting yourself in your patients’ shoes and acknowledging their emotions is essential.

You might not always have a clear or reassuring answer for them. But you can consistently offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. 

Just being there for them can make all the difference. Be ready for all sorts of reactions, from tears to cusses and everything in between. Tell your patients it’s okay to feel however they’re feeling.

  • Give Without Expectations:

You are just as human as everybody else. You’ll be disappointed if you expect acknowledgment, praise, or even a simple “thank you” for everything you do. 

Instead, give without expecting anything in return. Selflessness is one of the most important qualities a nurse can have. A nurse must have essential skills to become a successful nurse.

Caring for others is its reward. Making a difference in someone’s life is more than enough. More importantly, when you don’t expect you have nothing to lose, it allows you to focus on the task at hand and do what’s best for your patient.

  • Always Encourage Them:

Do you realize how much power your words have? As a nurse, you can make or break somebody’s day. So, why not use that power to make somebody’s day just a little bit better?

A kind word or a simple encouragement can go a long way. It might not seem like much, but it can make all the difference for somebody fighting a hard battle. 

Greet your patients with a warm smile and a positive attitude. Always encourage them to keep going. Assure them that you’re there for them and that they can get through this.

  • Let Them Have the Authority:

Not everyone would comprehend ‘How can I help you?’ Some might want to talk, while others would prefer some alone time. 

Some might want their family involved, while others would rather keep it between you and them. There is no one-size-fits-all for nurse-patient relationships.

The best way to know what your patients need from you is to ask them. They know themselves better than anyone else. And they’ll be more than happy to tell you what they need if you’re willing to listen.


Building a strong nurse-patient relationship is essential to providing the best possible care for your patients. Unless you understand their needs, you can’t hope to meet them.

These tips should help foster overall health and positive relationships with your patients. But remember to be yourself. If you’re genuine and compassionate, that will shine through, no matter what.

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