How To Keep Your Cool Around Non-Compliant Patients

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

There is usually more to working with patients than finding out what is wrong with them medically. You might encounter reluctance toward following the treatment, opposition to tend to their needs, and so on. Life as a nurse is full of challenges, no doubt.

Since there is always more than one side of the story, as a nurse you must be able to understand the patient’s position – most of them usually come in scared, stressed, or simply uncomfortable. They are not used to being in a hospital like you are – for you, it’s a job; for them, it’s a place that mostly brings pain and discomfort.

Undeniably, being a nurse is one of the most difficult jobs in the whole world. First of all, there is a lot of physical work involved and also a lot of caring for the patient’s emotional needs. A nurse experiences all kind of attitudes from patients – they can be abusive, confused, or simply very demanding.

So how can you keep your cool when you are dealing with patients that seem to be non-compliant? Here are some helpful tips.


  • Listen To Them


To begin with, you must take your time and listen or observe them – they usually act in a certain way because nobody acknowledges their fear. However, when it seems that you simply cannot reach a consensus with your patient, just take a step back. Leave the room, take a deep breath, and think about the fact that they probably dislike the situations that they are in more than you do.

Under no circumstances should violent or abusive behavior cross your mind. That is a serious offense, and it is even worse since your patient is in a vulnerable state and you are the person assigned to make them feel as good as possible and taken care of.


  • Pay Attention To Your Body Language


Take your communication with the patient to the next level. It is not enough to pay close attention to them or address some general questions. The signals that you send to the patient are a factor that influences their spirit quite a lot. That is why you must pay special attention to the non-verbal communication, such as the way you hold your arms and whether they are in a defensive position or not.


  • Put Yourself In Their Shoes


Another thing that you must remember is the fact that whatever attitude a patient might display around you; it is usually not about you. Like stated before, a person in a hospital bed is someone vulnerable, in pain, who truly does not want to be there but simply doesn’t know how to handle the situation.

Also, sometimes it’s not the patient’s temper at fault – the medicine that he/she is taking, or a certain medical condition can easily make the patient act in a strange, aggressive manner. If the medication is the reason, sometimes the doses need to be adjusted.

Patient management is another crucial aspect for a nurse. More specifically, non-compliant patients tend to take up all of your time, to the detriment of others. Do not let yourself pressured into tending more to a patient than to another way, just because of his/her behavior.

Making them feel that you care about their suffering is also a good way of approaching this matter; this is the time to leave your personal issues aside and do everything in your power to ease their suffering.

If it comes down to threats of suing, although they are false in most instances, you should, however, inform your supervisor so that the situation is handled properly.

As you’ve seen by know, being a nurse has multiple aspects and can sometimes test you in ways that you never thought were possible. That is why you should do a self-evaluation and figure out what weaknesses and strengths you have. Knowing these things makes it easier to manage a stressful situation. It allows you to be more confident and handle problems with a bit more humor, for instance. Also, after a really hard day, you don’t get so easily discouraged.

Connecting with the patient is what gets both you and him through the day. Thus, don’t be afraid to get to know the patient, and you can do that by talking directly with him and also with his family.

To conclude with, mastering the art of being a nurse usually takes a while, but with a lot of patience and good will, no mountain is high enough.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


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