How's Your Bedside Manner?

NursingSeptember 01, 2020

The vital role nurses play in patient communication

Nurses are often the eyes and ears of a hospital or clinic. They gather information from patients through verbal and nonverbal cues, which means they need to be effective communicators. Patients may not be at their best when they are seeking healthcare, and nurses who have a good bedside manner can help them relax so they can share important details to improve the quality of care they receive. 

While some people are naturally good communicators, it is also a skill that can be developed over time. Here are three ways nurses can improve their interactions with patients.

1. Be an active listener

Active listening is when you fully concentrate on the speaker instead of passively hearing what they are saying. It requires the use of all your senses and takes a lot of focus to help a patient feel heard and seen. Be an active listener by maintaining eye contact with the patient. Also, show that you are listening by nodding your head and smiling, if appropriate. Or paraphrase what they say and repeat it back to them to show that you understand and comprehend what they are telling you. These actions will encourage patients to continue to share.

2. Have patience with patients

If you have a lot of patients to see, it can be easy to want to get the information you need and move on to your next responsibility quickly, but nurses who have excellent bedside manners take time with patients, which makes them feel valued. You need to approach each situation with kindness and sincerity. Slow down and ask patients open-ended questions that help them share their feelings instead of inquiries that can be answered with a "yes" or "no.” For example, ask a patient, “Is there anything else you want me to know?” Or, “What can I do to make you more comfortable?”

3. Follow the Golden Rule

Nurses need to put patients' needs and feelings first. This can be particularly difficult if a patient is uncooperative. It is essential to try to put yourself in their shoes and treat them with the same kindness you would want to be treated if you were in their situation. Many times, a patient will come into a conversation with a nurse feeling stressed and emotional. Some patients may even react with anger about their situation. Nurses have to be able to recognize that the reactions they may face are not personal. It is essential to give patients grace for their underlying anxiety and respond with respect and caring.

Nurses play an important role in patient care and, as a nurse, you can improve the patient experience for anyone who enters your hospital or clinic by paying attention to your communication skills.  By leading with your heart, you can make patients feel cared for and gather important information that can help improve their outcomes. Nursing is a rewarding career filled with opportunities care for others, and a Fortis nursing education can help you get started on that path. Click here for more information or call us today at (855) 436-7847 and speak to one of our career counselors.