Why is the term client used instead of patient? - page 8

by LauraLou

14,220 Views | 76 Comments

This may be a silly question, but I am in my first semester of nursing school. All my professors refer to patients as clients. Is there a reason why the term client is used instead of patient? Does the word patient imply... Read More


  1. 0
    Ooooooh! That "client" or "customer" thing drives me crazy. A patient is someone in need of medical assistance for which I provide care. It is a special relationship. A client is someone who seeks service for fee. And it implies that they have the ability to shop around. Let me tell you something. If you're wheeled into my ED you get the nurse who is assigned to you. You don't get a menu from which to pick this ain't the Bunny Ranch. And a customer is someone looking for bargains at WalMart. After coming from a Paramedic background where anyone calling for you assistance was a "patient" and of course anyone who sees an MD is a patient, why on earth do we in nursing have to have "clients"? Almost gets me as much as some of the Nursing DX. Altered Gas Transport, No it's dyspnea! Whether you practice as a medic, nurse NP PA or Doctor it's all medicine! It would help if we were all on the same page. (RANT OVER, Medic946RN out.)
  2. 0
    When I started LVN school I asked my instructor why this term was used. He (BTW was an a-hole) explained that for years Doctors were like Gods and basically just swooped in and told Pts that this is this and that is the way it is and this is what we are going to do period. He said that the reasoning behind the word client was to make people feel and become more involved in their own care and to begin an era of teaching and bringing the level of medical education up so that clients will not feel that Doctors are just swooping in and telling them what is going to happen but that they participate in decsions and therefore become clients interactive vs patients subject to whatever they are told.

    Just the way it was explained to me.


    I have enever called a Pt a client except in the endless careplans I wrote. I usually call my Pts by their first name if that is ok or if they are an elder I use the obliigatory Mr or Mrs or Ms ad name etc.
  3. 0
    Originally posted by CarolineRN:

    I don't like the term client. I've resisted it so much that when I was in Nursing school, when my texts used the word "client," I automatically inserted patient in my head. Did it so often, I think the letters actually spell patient!

    :roll :roll :roll

    Me, too!

    Aside from the fact that we've called them patients for years and I've never once had a patient ask to be called anything else, I was totally turned off of this word by one of my first instructors. She was rude, obnoxious, and blew spittle when she got really wound up over something. Whenever she said the word "client" in her condescending, horribly nasal whine, I'd immediately picture her in charge of one of those clinics you can go to for colon cleansing. ("Sir, will that be a Bare Necessity Flush?" "Yes, Ma'am, your usual, the Squeaky-Clean Undercarriage Deluxe, coming right up! Cash or charge?")

    Client, schmient. We are nurses. We take care of sick/injured/pregnant/dying patients, and I daresay most of them couldn't care less what label we attach to them as long as they recieve care that is competent, respectful, and professional. By demoting caring to a service rendered, we undermine what we do, and dismiss the human element that makes up the best part of nursing.

    Other than that, it's a fine word.
  4. 0
    "I still believe we would appear more professional and would make progress towards the public becoming more aware of how few R.N.s are on duty AND that there is a distinction between the professional licensure of the staff. "

    There are so many ways I wanted to reply to this, all of them potentially inflammatory. I am an LPN, and I respect the hell out of my fellow nurses regardless of their licensure. Why? Because it takes a great deal of heart to work in this profession with some of the insanity we face on a daily basis. But I have had it UP TO HERE with RNs who think that they are the only nurses who matter. There are those who are fantastic and treat all nurses as colleagues, and they have my appreciation, but there are far too many who treat me like a glorified CNA because I am not an RN.

    In regards to the use of the word client, to me it seems more appropriate in the Home Care/Private Duty setting than in a hospital setting simply because of the more choice-based setup. However, regardless of what they are called, they are all people who look to us to provide them with the highest standard of care possible. Now this may be mitigated by those who refuse prescribed treatments or other things that would benefit them, and goodness knows I've encountered my share of that, but nevertheless, it is still our responsibility to make the options available to them even if they will be turned down flat. It's our dedication to these standards that marks us as professionals, not what degree we may have.
  5. 0
    you say tomayto - I say tomahto

    The best question might be......does it matter what we "call" those we provide care for.

    As a nurse educator, the issue of client vs patient is frequently revisited in our faculty. Our decisions affect a large number of students (140 in both "years" of the program). I'm a great advocate for maintaining the terminology of "patient" since the majority of our clinical proctice is in the hospital setting.

    Our current decision is to use "patient" in written and most spoken communication with students while allowing faculty in the Community and Psych areas to use "client" in their teaching and clinical experiences.

    It is less important to me what we call individuals than how we assist them in reaching their optimal health.

  6. 0
    Wait a minute! I'm still trying to conceptualize the unitary biopsychosocial aspects of sciencing when I operationalize thematic abstractions of interpersonal phenomena! Nursinglish is great!
  7. 0
    Wait a minute! I'm still trying to conceptualize the unitary biopsychosocial aspects of sciencing when I operationalize thematic abstractions of interpersonal phenomena! Nursinglish is great!


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