building relationships with patients

Specialties Oncology


i am a new BMT nurse, starting my 3rd week off orientation and being on my own. i work night shift & am slowly adjusting to this job as it is my first job following nursing school graduation. i was talking to my mom who was previously an ICU nurse about building relationships with my in the ICU we often have patients who are with us for weeks and months at a time, it is like a second home for them. I am finding so far in my career that I am simply going through the motions..I have my list of things to get done and I just go down the list and mark things off...charting, assessments, meds, etc. So far I haven't really felt comfortable talking to patients about their diagnosis or treatment or even their life in general (other than general small you have kids? where are you from?)

i don't think i am a cold nurse by any means but i feel like some nights it is all i can do to get through the shift with my head still intact. i WANT to build relationships with my patients and have them leave the hospital and remember my name and face..we have patients who come back frequently so i know it would benefit us both to see a familiar face but i don't know how to reach out and offer myself like that.

my mom told me that i should help this patients live as much of a normal life as they can..go above and beyond..celebrate birthdays, bring in little gifts every once in awhile, write them a card when they leave the hospital. are these things appropriate? what kind of things do you do for your patient to go "above and beyond"? i really just want my patients to feel confident in their care and to feel like they truly matter..i don't want to treat them as if they are just another face but as an individual..a person with a family, a life, etc. thanks in advance :)

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

you're exactly where you need to be right now. you are much too new to nursing and your job to have time for "extras." once you get more comfortable, you'll have more time to get to know more about your patients personally. just remember to keep things professional and not get enmeshed with your patients; it's not healthy, and you'll burn out fast.

Inpatient oncology is generally very problem-focused (BMT, acute pain, acute nausea, bleeding, etc) so patients turnover quickly, although some do end up needing longer-term hospitalization. Outpatient oncology offers an opportunity for ongoing follow-up with patients, and you really get to know them and their families in the outpatient setting. If you are interested in that side of oncology nursing, you might consider an eventual transition to an outpatient oncology setting (infusion center, radiation oncology, etc).

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