Developing good relationships with your patients is an important part of being a nurse. Take the time to look at what you’re doing and not doing during those first interactions. Here are four ways to get your relationships with patients off to a good start.
1. Start when you first meet your patient.
Take a stab at pronouncing their last name. Ask them how you did. I butchered many of the last names of the Finnish families in our area. To avoid repeating my mispronunciation, I wrote them down phonetically. It wasn’t long before I learned to pronounce their names correctly.
2. Ask your patients what they want to be called.
Don’t assume everyone is comfortable being called by their first name. It will help build a good relationship from the beginning if you call people what they want to be called when you first meet them.
3. Avoid calling your patients “Sir” or “Ma’am”.
You may think you are being respectful, but your patients might interpret it as cold and unfriendly. Save these terms for when you don’t know a patient’s name.
4. Don’t give your patients a nickname without their permission.
If they want to be called by a favorite name, then respect that. Personally, I don’t like people I don’t know calling me Nan or Nanc. It feels disrespectful. And what about the Elizabeth’s out there? Are they Beth’s or Elizas or Lizzy or Elizabeths? You won’t know unless you ask them.
Next time you meet a new patient, get your relationship started on a positive note. Try these strategies. They’ve worked for me. They can for you, too.