Bedside Manners 101


Bedside Manners 101

By Sue Heacock

One statement we have all heard from mom is, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” That moniker definitely applies here! We ALL have time to show compassion to our patients. IF you think you don’t, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your job description and/or work location!!! The following are some simple ideas to keep in mind when “treating” your patients. Many of these apply only to the hospital setting, but others apply to every situation! 

  • Imagine that it is your parent or child lying there… How would you like him/her to be treated? Enough said on that one!
  • The little things mean a lot. Clean the bedside table, supply the patient with fresh water, make sure the covers are pulled up and offer to open the blinds to let some light in. How long does each of these simple tasks really take? Not long and they will go a long way in the eyes of your patients.
  • Can we talk about something other than my illness please? Don’t you think your patient would like you to take a moment to find out something else about him/her besides the details of the illness at hand? What do you do for a living? Do you have any children or grandchildren? Those are simple questions that show you are interested in the patient as a PERSON.
  • Take the time to make sure the linen and gown has been changed and the patient has been bathed. So many times this does not happen as often as it should. Why not? A nice warm bath does wonders for the spirit! 
  • The call button is there for a reason. I have been a patient in a hospital three different times. Each time I rang the call button only when I REALLY needed something. The response each time? “I’ll be right there.” And all three times–no one came! Think about the irony of this!
  • Ask open ended questions…You will gain more insight into the patient. Questions like, “How did you feel when that happened?” or “What do you usually do when that happens?” The answers to open ended questions will give you more information than you were originally seeking. Remember: information is power! The information you gain from your patients gives you–and ultimately the patient–more power in healing to his/her maximum extent. Having a positive, compassionate and caring bedside manner can avoid patient complaints, and more importantly, give patients greater comfort in times of need. The other positive side effect: your friendly bedside manner promotes the ENTIRE NURSING PROFESSION! I asked my mother, who is elderly and often a patient in the hospital, what her biggest complaint with nurses is. This is the final tip:
  • Say my name and make eye contact: Again, simple, non-time stealing requests that increase satisfaction of your patients. Don’t make your patients feel like a “number,” say their name! Please make eye contact–even for a brief moment–because you are making a person-to-person connection!

About the Author

Sue Heacock, RN, MBA, COHN-S is the author of Inspiring the Inspirational: Words of Hope From Nurses to Nurses, a compilation of stories from nurses around the country, with a sprinkling of inspirational quotes. Sue is a certified occupational health nurse specialist and has worked in a variety of areas of nursing including pediatrics and research.  Before entering the nursing profession, Sue worked in human resources and equal employment opportunity.

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One thought on “Bedside Manners 101

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