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How do you "bond" with your patients?

How do you "bond" with your patients?

I do not "bond" with my patients. I do not need to bond with them or even like them to deliver the care they need. It is strictly a professional connection and it really should not be more than that.

Wow. I hope to never be one of your patients,Kyrshamarks.

Winter green,when I meet a patient, I stand near them and make eye contact as I talk to them. I give my patient my full attention as we talk. I try to learn something about them that I can relate to. When you are truly concerned and caring, your patient will feel it and resond to it. : )


Specializes in Psych! maybe.....

Simply put, the exact moment that a patient knows who you are (the Nurse in charge of care, unless you're in a different career), should be enough of a "bond" to make.

If you really wanted to bond with patients, try having their symptoms and talking about it with them. That's as close as a bond as you should make. Don't make it personal.

I tell them funny stories, ask them how they are feeling, talk to them about their medical condition and in conversations look for teachable moments to educate them. I also try to stay a few steps ahead by making sure they have all the meds ordered they will probably need (pain meds for a chest painer, zofran for a patient feeling nauseous, etc.) and I explain my reasons for holding or giving whatever prn meds so the patient is aware of the care they are receiving.

In my mind, bonding means caring and a good nurse of course bonds with his/her patients because a good nurse genuinely cares about them.

Edited by TorsadesDePointesRN

dthfytr, ADN, LPN, RN, EMT-B, EMT-I

Specializes in ER, Trauma. Has 30 years experience.

In the ER a good history is important. If they've done something dumb, I laugh with them. If it's clearly not critical, I ask the spouse if they want us to try to "save them" or if they have clean underwear on so I can report back to their mother. If it's a situation where humor isn't appropriate, one look tells me what they're feeling. Then I reflect that back to them.

In one case a businessman from out of town was having a small heart attack, his first. Leaning forward to stare at the monitor, white knuckles on the side rails, I said "really scared, huh?" He said yes. I told him (truthfully) that he was doing OK, and that if there were anything to worry about I would let him know. With that he let go of the rails, elaxed and leaned back in bed. His monitor rhythm immediately improved enough to catch the doctors attention(!) and we were friends.

Some people want to keep it strictly professional, which is their choice I guess. I think it's their loss.

As for me, "no man is an island." If I didn't become friends with my patients, I wouldn't have heard what it was like to live around the corner from the Wright Brothers bike shop (from an elderly patient who still held a grudge because every time her bike needed repair "they were off in the Carolinas playing with their gliders" and "we thought they were crazy!"

I ask if they're having a boy or girl. I ask about their babies' names. I ask if they have other children at home. I ask if they are ready for the baby. I ask what they are watching on t.v. I ask if they are expecting visitors. I get them treats (when permissible). I ask if there is anything I can do for them. I smile. I'm respectful. I'm warm.

Tender HH RN

Specializes in Home Health Nursing. Has 3 years experience.

In the home health industry especially, I've learned that "bonding" is key. There are certainly those patients who refuse to even speak but once you get a patient to trust you it helps the patient-caregiver relationship. It opens up communication and then pushes the patient to really listen to you.

I have found that taking time to learn more about the patient, outside of their diagnosis, can be helpful. It puts them at ease and shows them you sincerely care about their well being. Also, I agree eye contact and smiling always helps. This is of course different for all healthcare professionals but this has worked for us.

ErinS, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice.

A study one of my professor's conducted followed a nurse who had an incredible success rate in occupational health changes. The people interviewed who had counseling on how to make changes to prevent workplace injury said the same thing over and over, and it was also observed. The nurse was not chatty, or even particularly friendly. But she turned off her phone, made the clients turn off theirs, and focused solely on the clients. Her average meeting was 15 minutes, and yet her clients reported her to be very caring.

So I guess my point is that spending just a few minutes of dedicated time with your patients at the start of each shift. This has worked like a charm, and is a system-wide requirement of the healthcare system I work in.

I don't want to bond, form any attachment, or have any lasting memories of patients.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

I don't bond with everyone. Everybody is not going to get along with everybody else, and I get that. I do try to be friendly - smile, make eye contact, crack a joke if it's appropriate, and let them know on my first trip in the room that they're stuck with me for the next 12 hours. If appropriate, I ooh and aah over their baby. Everything else, I just kind of roll with the dynamics of the room.

No Stars In My Eyes

Specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN. Has 43 years experience.

There's a difference between bonding and becoming friends. I can bond without getting tangled up in the patients personal life and business. I do know that when there's a blank-faced nurse who seems to not want to hear or respond to a patient , ie shows NO personality, it makes my stomach feel shriveled up for the patient. That said, there are some situations where total attention to the task is critical, and I can see how the idea of trying to bond under certain circumstances wouldn't be appropriate.


Specializes in Post Anesthesia. Has 30 years experience.

"bond" is kind of a charged term. I try to make a personal connection with my patients, I try to acknowledge them as a individual, not a diagnosis. I have a head start-thier intake form and data base. Where do they live, do they have a spouse, children, is thier career listed. I never spring this info on them- that's unfair and diminishes trust. I just ask safe questions that let them introduce themselves to me: "have you always lived ****?, any children,grandchildren...?" Patients are bombarded with MEDICAL,MEDICAL,MEDICAL...SICK,SICK,SICK. Letting them know you see them as a person, not a disease, can go a long way to establish trust. Often I offer a little info about myself to help facilitate an open dialogue and two way communication. I don't want to become my patient's new best friend, but I want them to trust me, and my care. I applaud your willingless to "bond" with your patients. A good rule of thumb is a friendly ear is rare commodity.

Thats a terrible attitude... and you must be one of those terrible nurses they talk about huh....

kool-aide, RN

Specializes in Cardiac. Has 5 years experience.

I don't think it makes you a bad nurse and or caregiver to distance yourself from patients and not become too attached, but I think it can be a little cold. I don't claim to become BFFs or emotionally involve myself with every patient, far from it, but there are some "repeat offenders" whom I have bonded with.

I do try to make some little jokes with my patients, listen to their stories if time permits, and not act rushed when caring for them. I think these are the best ways to "bond" with patients on a professional level, although, I'm not sure if "bond" would be the word I'd use.

kool-aide, RN

Specializes in Cardiac. Has 5 years experience.

Thats a terrible attitude... and you must be one of those terrible nurses they talk about huh....

I'm trying to decide if that was sarcasm or not... lol :lol2: (Just kidding, of course.) hehe

Maybe "bond " is a bit strong- I like to think of it as building "rapport" . I like to find a common ground, or at least let the person talk about something on their mind- be the listener. I do notice though if we have some things in common, it makes talking that much easier- I never say" oh I know what you are talking about" but I can say, " I see where you are coming from" and that kinda puts the ball in their court. I actually had a very difficult patient the other day- 1st thing she said to me was "I'm letting you know I am a B$^" I told her we would get along fabulously- she started laughing- it broke the ice. She had been thru the grinder and back, so I understood her being defensive, and lett me tell you- she talked up a storm :-).

Think of it as therapeutic communication.But that doesnt mean I follow her after my shift either. I might say hi if they are on the floor still, but I leave it at that.

dthfytr, ADN, LPN, RN, EMT-B, EMT-I

Specializes in ER, Trauma. Has 30 years experience.

It seems like the word "bond" has a much wider interpretation than I first realised, also the term "friend." Perhaps we should agree on something else, such as a relationship more personal than that we'd form with the cashier at the food store without becoming BFF's?


Specializes in Cardiac Step-Down, Family Medicine. Has 2 years experience.

First thing I do with a patient is smile big and introduce myself. That seems to make them a little bit more at ease. It's a small gesture, but a genuine one (most of the time), and it goes a long way.

No Stars In My Eyes

Specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN. Has 43 years experience.

Bonding,connecting,establishing a rappport with the patient as an individual being,being friendly without going overboard ; I think we are essentially all in agreement even if the semantics are different


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