Why Nursing Bedside Manners Matter

NursingNovember 12, 2013


The term "nursing bedside manners" refers to the way that a nurse treats his or her patients. While this term is typically applied to doctors, nursing bedside manners are even more important in relation to nursing because of the amount of time and direct patient care that nurses give patients. A nurse can either serve as a comforting presence, offering compassion and kindness, or they can make the situation worse by showing a lack of interest in their patients and their needs. Let's look at how the way nurses treat patients can make such a dramatic difference.

Imagine that you or a loved one is sick in the hospital. There is a great deal of pain, uncertainty, fear and sadness. The patient is away from home, and they are unsure of what is going to happen.

Imagine a nurse enters the room, addresses the patient by name and provides them with a new pitcher of cold water. He or she opens the windows to let the sunshine in and changes the bed sheets. The nurse smiles and chats with the patient about her family and what's on the television. When it's time for a CT scan, the nurse explains what is going to happen during the procedure, why it is being done and how the patient may feel. When the patient hits the call button, the nurse pops in and asks, "How can I help you?" and while there, the nurse helps the patient fix her hair the way she likes it. Essentially, the nurse treats the patient like a member of his or her own family. The patient is sick, but feels like her concerns are heard and addressed because the nurse took the time to explain what was going on.

A shift change occurs. 

The night shift nurse comes in to the same patient's room. She curtly introduces herself and then disappears for several hours. The call light is unanswered, and the patient feels neglected and alone. The night nurse finally comes in with an imperious attitude. Instead of asking for more pain medicine, the patient chooses not to ask for a thing.

Attentive and caring nursing bedside manners are at the heart of the nursing profession. The small details add up and communicate to the patient that the nurse is there to help. The American Nurses Association has established the Code of Ethics for Nurses which guides the nurse in ways to interact with patients, emphasizing the importance of respecting patients and treating them with dignity and compassion. Nurses who have caring nursing bedside manners take this idea and make it reality for themselves and their patients.

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