7 things nurses should never do in front of patients

Written by Michael Hoon

Nursing is a job that does not just require a good deal of medical training—it also calls for a bedside manner that will put patients’ minds at ease in the most harrowing circumstances. Good nurses know what to do and say no matter what the situation. The very best nurses also know what they should never, ever do under any circumstances. Read on to find out what types of behavior nursing veterans know to avoid.

Never lose it.

Okay, you’re having a lousy day. We all have them. But you must put your own personal problems aside when dealing with people who have concerns about their health. So you must always maintain self-control and never, ever lose it when interacting with even the most obnoxious patients. Be understanding when your patients get a bit short-tempered. Be patient with them, even when you feel like your patience is at its end. Never forget that it is your job to make people feel better.

Never bad mouth staff members to patients.

Patients always want to feel like they are in expert hands. Once you start bad mouthing fellow staff members to patients, those patients will start doubting the expertise of the doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals responsible for taking care of them. It is both worrying to the patient and unprofessional.

Never get too personal.

Revealing too much about yourself can also undermine your professionalism. That’s why it is best to save personal conversations with your coworkers for break periods. Patients have their own concerns and do not want to hear your life story. You also do not want to get into your personal political or religious beliefs, because if they clash with a patient’s, that patient may become uncomfortable or even resist your care.

Never miss a break.

Nursing is a stressful job. You need to take a break from it every so often to refresh yourself. Therefore, you should never miss any of the breaks you are allotted during the day. If you work through your breaks, you will tire out faster and not perform your job to the best of your abilities.

Never get too specific about when you’ll return.

Nurses know that a new task is always waiting for them around every corner—there’s always a patient or colleague who requires their time. However, each patient only cares about the attention you will give to her or him. So, never get too specific about when you will return to provide that care. If you say, “I’ll be back in five minutes,” your patient will really expect you to be back in five minutes on the dot and not be too understanding if you get pulled away to help someone else.

Never give false hope.

Saying something like “You’re going to be just fine” may seem like the right thing to do when a patient is excessively concerned, but it might not be medically accurate. Never give easy answers or false hopes when it comes to someone’s health. Leave the diagnoses to the doctors. The same thing goes for how much a procedure will hurt. Everyone has different pain thresholds, and telling a patient that a shot “won’t hurt a bit” might give a sensitive one false hopes.

Never act surprised.

No patient wants to hear a nurse say, “I’ve never seen that before!” Surprised comments like that will make patients feel as though they’re suffering from some sort of rare, incurable condition. Act like you’ve seen it all before. It will help keep a patient’s mind at ease.

About the author

Michael Hoon