Nursing students dating patients

  1. Has anyone else seen this happen in their class? One of the student government leaders of my class is dating a patient she met this semester. Myself and seven other students were recently in a case management project group with her, and when we all met in the library to work on the project, she brought the recently discharged patient with her! It left a bad taste in my mouth.

    I didn't ask any questions, but she must have exchanged numbers and more while in the hospital setting. A lot of students in the class think they are a cute couple. IMO, that's so unethical on many grounds!

    What are your thoughts on this??
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   Kora0880
    Quote from ether
    Has anyone else seen this happen in their class? One of the student government leaders of my class is dating a patient she met this semester. Myself and seven other students were recently in a case management project group with her, and when we all met in the library to work on the project, she brought the recently discharged patient with her! It left a bad taste in my mouth.

    I didn't ask any questions, but she must have exchanged numbers and more while in the hospital setting. A lot of students in the class think they are a cute couple. IMO, that's so unethical on many grounds!

    What are your thoughts on this??
    Personally I believe we are all people, attraction can take place anywhere. Whether it is ethical, well that's another story. I don't believe it is appropriate to date your patient, however I do believe it is ok after the therapeutic relationship has ended and both parties are outside of hospital settings. We all can end up in the hospital one day or another, does that make it automatically unnapropriate to meet other people? What about nurse-physician or other relationships among health care individuals? Of course it is a big NO NO with psychiatric patients, for their own good though rather than ethics.
    I don't think it is appropriate to involve any individual outside of nursing school in school projects involving patients, as you brought up. Rarely is it necessary anyway.
    Also, please don't judge and throw stones at others, as none of us are perfect or walking incarnations of ethics and goodness. You make it sound like you are immensly demoralized by these actions, are you indeed? Let's not ASSUME things what they did or not, judging people based on such is unethical in itself. Besides, we rarely know the whole truth even if it is told by the 1st persons.
  4. by   wonderbee
    Is it unethical? You have to ask if there is harm involved. I'm sure there would be a problem with a psychiatric nurse dating a psych patient. But for the average acute care patient, I don't see the harm. They met, they liked each other and they exchanged phone numbers.

    Not sure whether there is some ANA position on this but that's mine.
  5. by   Kiwi
    Quote from Kora0880
    You make it sound like you are immensly demoralized by these actions, are you indeed? Let's not ASSUME things what they did or not, judging people based on such is unethical in itself. Besides, we rarely know the whole truth even if it is told by the 1st persons.
    I am a non-judgemental person, but it is unacceptable for nurses to get lax on exhibiting professional behavior at all times. Therefore, flirting with and exchanging phone numbers is not in the best interest of the patient and his care. A nurse/ patient relationship is built on trust.

    I would compare this situation with a couple scenarios:
    1) A person who is at least 21 who is dating a minor (under 18). The minor is inherently vulnerable and could be subjected to acts and exploitation against his/her will.

    2) Another example is accepting gifts from patients. I will not accept money, but I will accept a gift under $20 that patients or families give me. For example: A patient's family brought in cookies and punch. Another patient gave me a cheap rosary. Both of these little "thank you" tokens were appropriate to accept. I've had to turn down a few nice gifts from families who have said to me, "Here's a gift, now take really good care of mother." Patients should be treated equal and nurses shouldn't buy into patient preference because of a nice gift.

    This is more of a professional situation than one of ethical ideations. Professional boundaries should be set on the nurse/patient relationship to ensure the well-being of both the nurse and the patient. The bounderies acknowledge the potential for exploitation of the patient given the inherent power differential between nurse and patient.
  6. by   fergus51
    According to our BON, if they started a relationship after their nurse patient relationship was over and they are both adults, it's their business and no one else's.

    I think you are also assuming a lot about the situation. You don't know how the relationship started exactly and you are assuming there is always a power differential between nurse and patient. That's a traditional view, but not always the case.
    Last edit by fergus51 on May 1, '04
  7. by   traumaRUs
    Just thinking that I usually work nights in inner-city trauma center where 90% of my patients don't even bathe on a regular basis! On a serious note - don't think its unethical provided they are adults. Like another poster stated - you have to meet your SO somewhere.
  8. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    What happens outside of the hospital between a former pt. and a student or nurse, is NOAB (none of anyone's business).
  9. by   Tweety
    Quote from LPN2Be2004
    What happens outside of the hospital between a former pt. and a student or nurse, is NOAB (none of anyone's business).
    Agreed.

    Although not a good idea at all to exchange phone numbers with a patient.
  10. by   Rapheal
    One of my friends dates former patients all the time. I do not know why but so far nothing good has come from it. I don't think is unethical if the relationship starts after the patient is discharged.
  11. by   Energizer Bunny
    Unless they were "doing the deed" while he was a patient, who cares? Although, as others have said, I would be leary of exchanging phone numbers in the first place. And, as has been mentioned, you gotta meet your mate somewhere!
  12. by   Kora0880
    Quote from ether
    This is more of a professional situation than one of ethical ideations. Professional boundaries should be set on the nurse/patient relationship to ensure the well-being of both the nurse and the patient. The bounderies acknowledge the potential for exploitation of the patient given the inherent power differential between nurse and patient.
    Sorry, but you mentioned nothing of professionalism in your initial post. . . I agree with professionalism, be such at all times, or at least try. . . but must still stand by my previous statement. . . . it's their bussiness
  13. by   Carolanne
    Sometimes the laws of attraction have a funny twist. I don't see anything wrong with the student forming a new friendship, but I think it was a mistake to bring him along to the study group or involve him in a nursing function where others may recognize him as a former patient. If love is in the air, wonderful, but keep it separate and apart from nursing business. What she does on her own time is her own business.

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