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Student Nurse asking RN's their opinion

Ant75 Ant75 (New) New

I would like to propose 3 questions of which any RN can feel free to answer and multiple responses would be appreciated. The subject has to do with Nursing Ethics and professionalism in the workplace. There is no correct or incorrect answer, strictly your personal opinion.

1. How do we as nurses maintain professional relationships with our patients?

2. What are some warning signs that the professional relationship is becoming unprofessional?

3. Is there anything wrong with becoming personally involved with a patient?

1. Do not bring your personal life into your nurse-pt relationship except in vague generalities

2. The attempt to give a gift, or to try and continue a relationship outside of the hospital.

3. Oh yeah.........

LilPeanut, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in NICU/Neonatal transport.

How are you defining personal? Personal as in, romantic involvement with a patient/family member? Or personal as in becoming a friend of a pt./family member.

Because if we're not just talking about romantic relationships, I disagree with what Tazzi has said. There are parents in the NICU that keep in contact with their child's primary nurse/other caregivers, especially the ones who were severely ill or those who passed away. And when I was in clinical, one of our pts. mom was having a terrible week because of unexpected problems with the baby. My preceptor and I got her a little gift to help lift her spirits. It really made a difference to her, just to know the staff cared about her and her little girl.

So, if you are talking about personal in friendship and support, I don't believe it is always wrong. There still need to be some boundries, but it can really help pts/their families to know that people really care.

Antikigirl, ASN, RN

Specializes in Education, Acute, Med/Surg, Tele, etc.

1. How do we as nurses maintain professional relationships with our patients? By always keeping in mind that we are there to provide safe and sound nursing care to tend to the whole being in our care! Yes, this does allow for some conversation and friendly feelings, but they should never get in the way of performing safe and sound care of the patients! In my years of nursing I have only hugged ONE patient...because I personally feel for me that crosses my heart line too much, and that is a protection method for me...others use others. Know yourself well, it will take time...but you will start to feel what professional conduct vs non is as you grow as a nurse.

2. What are some warning signs that the professional relationship is becoming unprofessional? When patients/staff start feeling that they can get extras or ask you to do things you shouldn't or won't! Or when patients are overly friendly and touchy in innappropriate ways (which differs in each individual). When you feel you are not more Nurse than Friend.

OR my fav, happens to me all the time...when people just keep asking questions out of work at you about medical care because you are a nurse...I find that very unprofessional to not stop them and remind them that you are not a nurse outside of the facility/practice and can not give advice or Dx/Tx info!!! When I am out of work...I am just me, not a nurse...and I like that 'me' part very much, and I don't get to spend much time with just ME and my friends/family...so keep work at work and vs versa!

3. Is there anything wrong with becoming personally involved with a patient? I have never done this...I have too many checks and balances systems in place to prevent this! I see a pt as a pt...not my idea of a foundation of a personal relationship (ewwww...they aren't exactly at their best...LOL!). Nursing is my job...come see "ME" later on out of the nurse/patient relationship...I am sure people would like me better that way anyway...LOL!

As far as just being friends or communicating...no, I will not do this. I like to keep my work life there, home life here at home. I barely have time to keep my home life in order, and my social life....oh man I can't remember last time my friends/family and I have gotten together just to have some fun...so I would certainly reserve that time for them...and not encourage making new friends in patients......

Not a nurse yet, but this seemed like a thread where I could learn a few things, and I do have one comment that some of the nurses might want to address. In my experience, people meet others in many unexpected ways. I'm sure its possible that during the course of treating a pt, one might become attracted to, or have feelings for, a pt. From an ethical standpoint, I think it would be wrong for a nurse to see their job as an extension of their personal life - in other words, looking for romance on the job. But what if Mr. or Ms. Right just happens to get admitted to your floor? What would you do? Would you pursue a relationship with that person, or would you force yourself to not get involved because of principle? I ask this because I have seen in my current occupation where people set up this hard and fast rule of not dating a co-worker or client. But again, none of us can predict or plan where we might meet the person we stay with for the rest of our lives. I'm sure many members here have really unique stories about how they met their significant other.


Specializes in ER, Teaching, HH, CM, QC, OB, LTC.

1.How do we as nurses maintain professional relationships with our patients?

I keep my person in to myself & when I ask the patient or patient's SO what they may fell is personel info i tell them why it is significant to their care. That way the don't think I'm trying to be nosy or to friendly.... It is called a therapuetic relation after all

2. What are some warning signs that the professional relationship is becoming unprofessional?

When the questions keep coming!!! or you feel the need to do 'more' for the patient... or no one else can care for them like you can....

3. Is there anything wrong with becoming personally involved with a patient?

Oh yes!!! very shaky ground....keeping in touch is one thing,I got a baby picture of the daughter from the her mother - first baby that I ever delievried,but it was sent to me via the hospital .....over for dinner is another

Medic/Nurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in Flight, ER, Transport, ICU/Critical Care.

I find that maintaining "professional" relationships is fairly easy in my line of nursing. I, too, am not a big hugger and really hate it when I have gotten kissed (Once on the top of the head by a 85 year old husband of a patient - sweet? ewwww...) And I'm not that short.

On touching, hugging and such - I just try to keep a distance, but the inevitable does happen - in that case, I just kinda roll with it. I have had cases where what the patient/family wants is that hug and a shoulder to cry on and sometimes that is okay. I think that as compassionate human beings there are just times that we will need to lean on others - nurses are not exempt. Although hugging and holding are somewhat intimate, it is not sexual or sensual --- Big Difference.

Signs its becoming ... well, too much. If you think it is, then it is. Boundaries need to be set, but ... they need to be well defined and enforced to work.

As to personal involvement? Being invited to meet for a book club (when you are new in town) because you have discussed a book being read by a family member is not a problem. Also, when known to be "new" in town and obvious of faith - being asked to attend worship is not a problem.

Going to deliver (leave in stealth fashion/odd hour) a bag of groceries/diapers/case of formula to a single mom - that had her sick really kiddo in the ED and has some serious financial issues and 4 kiddos under 3 years old - is probably crossing a line (but, sometimes ... allowing for assistance with letting someone keep a little pride is a good thing).

Being "set up" because your patient has "the best grandson" and "he'd just love you" - awkward and probably not a good idea, but... I'd just always reply that I have a boyfriend. So be prepared - that has happened to me on several occasions and although I wasn't married (and even now that I'm married - I don't wear a ring at work) "I don't see a ring, dear" - I always have a good answer. ;)

Now, going out on a date with a patient/former patient. I say its just bad mojo - what if it doesn't work out? what if they remain a patient? what if it goes just plain psycho bad and you get a complaint filed on you at the BOARD of NURSING. I say why risk it? There are lots of fish in the sea, just keeping casting away - but avoid the work pool!

Good Luck, and remember that if you think it might be/feel/look inappropriate - then it most likely is.

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