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Going bowling with a former pediatric patient who's moved on to the adult world

Nurses   (724 Views 14 Comments)
by oneinfour oneinfour (New Member) New Member Nurse

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I've been a male peds nurse on a general med surg unit for over 4 years now. When I first started on my unit as a new grad, I took care of a teenage male cystic fibrosis patient that preferred having male nurses take care of him. So myself and the other male nurse that works on the unit were his primary nurses whenever he was admitted, and we all have common interests in video games and such things that younger guys do, so during our downtime we would bond with him by playing video games.

About 2 years ago he was transitioned over to the adult CF unit, and he makes contact with us to come visit him whenever he gets admitted, which is pretty difficult because I can't leave the unit for extended periods of time while I'm working to visit and play video games like he wants. 

I wanted to know your thoughts on setting up a day where him and his primary nurses from his old pediatric unit meet up to go bowling. Is this crossing the professional patient relationship? I go back and forth on it with this situation. Welcome to any and all insights and guidance on this situation!

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klone has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

3 Followers; 113,862 Visitors; 13,161 Posts

IMO yes, it crosses a professional boundary.

Ask yourself this question: how would you feel about the situation if the patient were female?

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Jedrnurse has 25 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in school nurse.

11,438 Visitors; 1,207 Posts

I understand where you're coming from, but don't do it. Rule of thumb: no socializing with patients/former patients (especially since he's still a patient of your facility even though it's a different service).

 

BTW, there well might be a facility policy addressing this issue already.

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FacultyRN has 12 years experience.

351 Visitors; 17 Posts

Hi, I'd recommended reading NCSBN's brochure titled "A Nurse's Guide to Professional Boundaries." Great document that fully addresses your question! It's available online and can be easily located with a Google search.

Edited by FacultyRN

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Jory has 10 years experience as a MSN, APRN, CNM.

1 Follower; 11,481 Visitors; 1,244 Posts

Where I live, we know so many people that come in and out of the hospitals, it would be impossible to avoid all out-of-hospital contact.

However, here is an alternative.  Simply ask your manager.  This may actually be viewed as a positive since you are planning to go out as a group.  

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KCMnurse has 33 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN.

1 Article; 7,234 Visitors; 238 Posts

Since you are asking, you are having some reservations about this planned outing. I would say no, just because it can put you (and your colleagues) in an awkward situation. Best to keep clear boundaries between you and your patients.

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Orion81RN has 5 years experience.

7,311 Visitors; 677 Posts

I've over stepped boundaries a few times, and it comes back to bite you. I had an MS pt my age in post acute rehab. She knew I was busy but still got her feelings hurt when I absolutely could not spend as much time in her room as she wanted. Her expectations grew and grew the more I did for her. I ate dinner in her room a couple times even though I had zero time to. We ordered out. So she expected it every night. Her feelings were hurt when I had to put my food down and leave her room to care for another pt.

 

I tried making it up to her by taking a night out of my time off to visit her and order food. But that turned into her expecting me to hang out on a regular basis. 

Oy, just don't do it. He'll invite you to hang out again. Will you feel comfortable saying no? Will you feel obligated to do it? Just don't do it. He seems to already not understand that you can't just leave your floor to go play videogames. What other expectations will this lead to? Nope. Don't do it.

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JadedCPN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

1 Follower; 6,765 Visitors; 641 Posts

It crosses a professional boundary for sure. 

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3 Followers; 95,906 Visitors; 36,540 Posts

I can't think of a single time that I loosened the professional boundary with a patient and/or their family and it did not come back to make trouble for me.  I learned to think twice about anything above and beyond normal job duties.  Just having a pleasant conversation can be turned on the nurse.

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4,206 Visitors; 351 Posts

Eh, I could go both ways on this too. Are you two close in age? Do you have a lot of shared interests? Would you be interested in continuing a friendship with him long-term? 

I probably wouldn't organize a group event, but if you want to become friends outside of the hospital environment and are close in age with common interests I don't think it's AS weird. 

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JadedCPN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

1 Follower; 6,765 Visitors; 641 Posts

17 minutes ago, EllaBella1 said:

Eh, I could go both ways on this too. Are you two close in age? Do you have a lot of shared interests? Would you be interested in continuing a friendship with him long-term? 

I probably wouldn't organize a group event, but if you want to become friends outside of the hospital environment and are close in age with common interests I don't think it's AS weird. 

I'm genuinely curious of your thought process of why becoming close personal friends outside of a group/hospital environment is less "weird" than organizing a quasi-work event to socialize with former patients and staff members? Not saying that's ok either, just curious to hear the reasoning.

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4,206 Visitors; 351 Posts

16 minutes ago, JadedCPN said:

I'm genuinely curious of your thought process of why becoming close personal friends outside of a group/hospital environment is less "weird" than organizing a quasi-work event to socialize with former patients and staff members? Not saying that's ok either, just curious to hear the reasoning.

Because I wouldn't link a future friendship to the former professional relationship at all. I do think that becoming friends with a former patient is a little strange, and I personally wouldn't do it. But if he truly feels that they have the foundation for a good friendship then I would think it would be a better option to pursue that friendship completely separate from their former roles as nurse/patient. Hosting an event with former staff members makes it fall more on the side of a professional boundary issue IMO, because it keeps them both in that caregiver/patient role. Now if it's going to be a one-time get together and he isn't planning on staying in contact/becoming better friends then that's one thing. But in that case then I feel like it's probably a better idea not to get together at all, mostly because it seems like the patient is more interested in developing an ongoing friendship.

I know it's a little different since they met when he was a pediatric patient, but I do know a few nurses that I work with who have become friends with patients outside of work. This one nurse I work with takes a former patient to church with her every Sunday. She made it a point for management to know about this because she uses it to get every Sunday off. Management thinks it's great and they genuinely seem to enjoy this time together. Like I said, I think it's strange and wouldn't personally do it. But if OP and the former patient would enjoy the time spent together as friends outside of the patient/caregiver roles then who am I to judge? 

 

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