Nurse Patient Relationship in Healthcare

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched- they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

Taking care of patients can be rewarding and fulfilling. However, sometimes it can also be emotionally and physically draining. Nurses work in patient care, but also in customer service.

Maintaining a professional, courteous interpersonal relationship can be challenging. However, it can be critical in a patient’s overall health and well-being.

A therapeutic nurse-patient relationship is defined as a helping relationship that’s based on mutual trust and respect, the nurturing of faith and hope, being sensitive to self and others, and assisting with the gratification of your patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs through your knowledge and skill.

This caring relationship develops when you and your patient come together in the moment, which results in harmony and healing.

I am of the view that patients need that extra time, touch and that feeling of  “I am there for you”. Anybody can be a patient at any point in time because ill health is unpredictable.

I once had a patient with whom I developed a nurse patient relationship that she so trusted my judgement. Whatever my colleagues wanted to do to her she would ask them to get my approval otherwise she would not okay it.

What exactly did I do to gain her trust? I first presented myself as her nurse on duty, asked about her welfare and what made her come to the hospital (though I already had her report). She was weak, a bit depressed but eager to speak.

She had worked as a nurse for 42 years and seeing herself in that condition she perfectly understood the implications of her current state of health. However she was very happy I had time to spend with her, she appreciated my empathy and spoke well of me to the doctors and my manager.

To cut a long story short she was discharged , much better than the way she was and emotionally improved.

I know I have to give medications but I never undermine the power of nurse- patient relationship.

“As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul, and body of our patients, their families, and ourselves. They may not remember your name, but they will never forget the way you made them feel.” Maya Angelou


1. Introduce yourself to your patient and use her name while talking with her. A handshake at your initial meeting is often a good way to quickly establish trust and respect.

2. Make sure your patient has privacy when you provide care. Be sure that her basic needs are met, including relieving pain or other sources of discomfort.

3. Actively listen to your patient. Make sure you understand her concerns by restating what she has verbalized. For example, “Mrs. Smith, you mentioned that you were concerned that your bone pain won’t be addressed in a timely manner?” However, don’t use restating too much in a conversation because it can be perceived by your patient that you aren’t really listening to her. Be real, showing your genuine self when communicating with her.

4. Maintain eye contact. Remember, too much eye contact can be intimidating. Smile at intervals and nod your head as you and your patient engage in conversation. Speak calmly and slowly in terms that she can understand. Your voice inflection should say “I care about you.”

5. Maintain professional boundaries. Some patients need more therapeutic touch, such as hand-holding and hugging, than others and some patients prefer no touching. Always respect differences in cultures.

6. Another way to build a great nurse and patient relationship is to make the patient laugh. Laughter is a positive interaction that can play a role in bringing light to a bad situation. They may have some concerns about their medical bills, the COVID 19 pandemic, their mental health might be at risk due to stress, or they could still be in pain after a treatment. We are all human beings, and a small joke can go a long way in positively impacting the patient experience.

         “Laughter is the best medicine in the world.”– Milton Berle


Research indicates that the relationship between a healthcare provider and a patient impacts healthcare outcomes. That means, how you interact with your patients, outside of simply providing medical care, influences their recovery.

This is true in a wide variety of settings. For example, a strong clinician-patient relationship improves recovery from mental illness, compassionate nursing leads to fewer pressure ulcers and falls among hospitalized patients, and patients whose healthcare providers help them feel optimistic about a medical procedure experience less pain and recover more quickly than patients who feel pessimistic.

The connection between good nurse-patient relationships and higher quality of care is so strong that the Institute of Medicine recommends all nurses follow the patient-centered method of care, which the Institute of Medicine defines as “providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needs, and values.” 

Clearly, if you want to excel as a nurse, you’ll need to take your relationship with patients seriously.


Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN Dec 30, 2020 |The Importance of the Nurse-Patient Relationship for Patient Care

Green, et. al., Understanding How Clinician-Patient Relationships and Relational Continuity of Care Affect Recovery From Serious Mental Illness: STARS Study Results, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, on the internet at

College of Nurses of Ontario. Therapeutic nurse-client relationship .

Institute of Medicine, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, The National Academics Press, available for purchase on the internet at

Watson J. Caring Science as Sacred Science. Philadelphia, PA: FA Davis Company; 2005.

Nurse Patient Relationship in Healthcare was written  by Udoamaka Elenwoke RN BSN BSC. A professional Italian nurse and you can follow her on Social media

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