Accountable Healthcare - Tips for Nurses on Coping With Difficult Patients
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January 25, 2021

Tips for Nurses on Coping With Difficult Patients

 Difficult situations can bring the worst out in people. Each person has a different coping mechanism. More often, people tend to react adversely to bad news. When you are in a profession where public dealing is frequent, you have to encounter unpleasant circumstances.

Public health care providers often found themselves in such situations. There are a lot of reasons why a patient or their loved ones react unpleasantly. We think that it is essential to know these reasons. It may help a nurse or a doctor to handle a situation professionally. The common reasons comprise fear and anxiety, substance abuse, and in the most unfortunate situation, guilt. 

These situations often increase the stress level in the nurses and healthcare staff. It also reduces their productivity. We are here to provide tips and tricks that will help you to cope with difficult patients. We ensure that with these tips, you will be able to simmer the situation down. Before taking any more time, we will move on to the ideas. 

  1. Do not take it to your heart:

The first tip and an essential one is to remember that the patient has no personal grudge with you. They might act in the same manner even if you were not in the picture. When you understand that, you will not get hurt by the painful things they might say. It will help you to continue your work without feeling uncomfortable. You can keep reminding yourself that you are doing the best you can do, and nothing will stop you.

You must not let it ruin your whole day. It can be a traumatic experience if a patient behaves rashly with you. Before catering to the other patients, give yourself a few minutes. If you cannot de-stress in a few minutes, take the rest of the day off. It is in the best interest of your patients that you recoup before coming back to work.

  1. Take a break:

Sometimes the situations can overwhelm you to the point that you want to quit. Many people avoid leaving their job. It is because they have a fear that it will look bad on their CV. If reading this made you think of yourself, it might be time for a break. A vacation can help you clear your mind and improve your physical and mental health. You can cope well with a fresh mind.

The break can also be an opportunity to pursue a master's degree that you are off-putting for so long. A masters will look great on your CV and improve your chances of being promoted. Are you hesitant about attending a college physically? Do not worry; various online programs may interest you. For instance, a registered nurse can enroll in an Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. It will help in advancing your career and polish your skills. So, when you come back to the field, you are ready to tackle every circumstance.

  1. Understand Yourself:

Everybody has some weaknesses and some strengths. We all must try to understand where those strengths and weaknesses lie. It helps you to improve your weaknesses and handle difficult situations better. 

The job description of a nurse or a doctor enlists good communication skills. When faced with a difficult situation, communication skills come to the rescue. It is good that you play to your strengths to diffuse the anger of the patient. For example, your witty personality may help you save the day. However, sometimes scenarios demand a grave approach. It is essential to contemplate the situation appropriately. 

  1. Listen to the patient:

One of the few reasons patients lash out is because they feel unheard. They are scared and want to know that everything will be okay. Listening to the patient's vent can make them feel safe. It will help calm their anxieties.

Hospital beds can become a lonely place. A person can get trapped in a vicious circle of negative thoughts. As health care practitioners, you can communicate with the patients. It will help them understand their health condition better and improve their mental capacity to fight off the disease.

  1. Stay Professional:

In some cases, the patients will push all your buttons and try to test your patience. They may withhold information from you or, they might say something racist. In such cases, you must stay professional. It is best to avoid any negative notion from your side. It can aggravate the situation. 

Experts recommend that you keep a positive but professional attitude. There are a lot of phrases and quotes that you can use to calm the patient down. It can help the patient trust you and communicate with you. According to a study, using metaphors and analogies help with physician-patient communications. 

  1. Self-care is Important:

Every profession has its challenges. Health care providers are often asking their patients to participate in self-care. It is vital that they also practice what they preach. It helps to relieve stress. There are a lot of activities that you can do to keep yourself grounded. For instance, you can meditate or go out for a hike. You can even do crafts. 

The idea of self-care is different for everyone. Participate in any activity that calms and brings peace to your mind. You will see a noticeable difference over time regarding how you handle the patients. 

  1. Set Boundaries:

In your medical profession, you will come across many patients that are demanding. If you do not fulfill their demands, they can become hostile towards you. It is the time when you set boundaries. It is not your job to take physical or verbal abuse from a patient. It is not necessary to shout back at them. You can stay calm and professionally tell them that you will not allow certain behaviors. You can ask them to go out in the fresh air and come back when they are calm. 

Experts recommend that you set boundaries during the initial meetings. It helps to avoid any mishaps. Most healthcare practitioners prefer the standardized approach for their patients. It helps to set boundaries from day one and treat every patient equally.


Nursing is a rewarding career. Like every other profession, it has its difficulties. Unfortunately, the downs of this profession might be a sick person screaming at you. It will not be a fun experience.  It is always a smart choice to prepare yourself. We hope that with these tips you will be able to handle everything confidently.

Article By: Katherine S.