The element of care in the nursing field plays a significant role in the overall outcome of a patient’s health. Unlike other healthcare professionals, nurses ensure that no aspect of patient care is neglected.

A nurse’s role in the lives of patients and their families impacts the outcomes depending on how nurses fulfill their responsibilities.

Irrespective of circumstances, nurses are responsible for upholding their duties to ensure that every individual receives optimal care.

However, with responsibilities come challenges that require a different approach. That is why besides care, empathy and compassion are also essential in the nursing profession to deal with challenging patients and help them heal.

Though patient care in the healthcare industry is primarily associated with prescribing medicine, there is more to it.

Many healthcare professionals don’t realize that even after treatment, patients are likely to feel stressed or vulnerable, an issue that cannot be treated only with medicines. The role of nurses holds significance here as they are the pillar of patient support.

Qualified nurses know that building a strong relationship with patients helps extract vital information critical to their health and develop a care plan.

These factors are pivotal in ensuring the importance of care in the nursing field.

As a nurse, if you want to advance your career and learn the art of incorporating these skills practically, then an online nursing RN-BSN program will help in your professional and personal growth journey.

However, if you still have difficulty dealing with challenging patients, here are a few tips.

1. Listen

Patients mostly get frustrated when no one listens to what they have to say. The first thing you should do to avoid commotion is to let them speak; this puts your patients off steam.

Patients often feel stressed, which multiplies tenfold when they cannot find coping methods.

While patients are stuck in this dilemma, you must help them find their way. Knowing that you are there to listen soothes the patient.

A qualified nurse with strong communication skills especially listening, applies them practically to establish a solid nurse-patient relationship.

Handling stress is a two-way road that requires one individual to vent and the other to patiently and actively listen and advise accordingly.

Nurses should exhibit positive listening behavior that will prompt patients to share, such as initiating conversation with the patient before jumping straightway to finding a solution.

Maintaining eye contact throughout the exchange, and directing a caring attitude toward the patient, puts them at ease and makes them corporative.

2. Remain Calm

Being a part of the healthcare industry does not mean you will always come across willing or cooperative patients; you can never predict the type of patients you will meet.

That is why you must maintain your composure and remain calm while dealing with anxious or ill-mannered patients.

Handling a challenging patient is nothing less than a crisis, making it necessary that focus on yourself first to assess the situation.

The best technique you should apply in such circumstances is to slow things down, take a few deep breaths, and engage in positive self-talk.

It allows you to stay calm, think more carefully, and come up with solutions for helping the patient.

Such incidents are also likely to occur when the patient physically reacts. As a nurse, it depends on your skills to break down the situation and analyze the cause. It offers an insight into the patient’s mental state and helps find a way out of the problem.

The possibility of dealing with a patient crisis is always high, so you should remain calm to diffuse the situation.

3. Set Boundaries

Most patients understand that the doctor-patient relationship is professional and personal, so there are still some boundaries that patients must respect. However, some patients fail to understand the concept of boundaries.

It usually happens because a nurse’s empathy or compassion is mistaken for friendliness, leading patients to become clingy and forget that the nurses are only doing their job.

In some circumstances, it reaches the point where patients leave a nurse’s career hanging in the balance. That is why it is necessary to set boundaries throughout the medical relationship to avoid problems.

As a nurse, it is important to know where your boundaries lie. If you get easily triggered by the behavior of the patients, you must excuse yourself to catch a breath or ask someone to help you with the situation.

Avoiding your problems creates a challenge for dealing with difficult patients.

When boundaries are respected and adhered to, it enhances interpersonal relationships, improves patient care outcomes, and promotes nurses’ professional growth.

4. Prioritize Safety

When patients get angry or lash out, their brain is not at the normal functioning capacity, putting you in direct line of the patient’s outburst.

Considering the likelihood of such incidents, the first thing to ensure is your own, the patient’s, and the safety of the surroundings.

Always make sure that you are within a safe distance and avoid getting too close to the patient. If you don’t feel safe, call in helping hands to ensure the situation doesn’t get out of control.

Work with management to inform and train everyone to stay alert and react accordingly in a potentially dangerous situation.

A few signs to watch out for to avoid dire consequences: aggression, tense shoulders, balled fist, heavy breathing, or flushed faces.

If your patients exhibit any of these signs, try talking about what is bothering them and calm them down.

Also, make sure that anything that resembles a sharp object or will harm the patient is removed from the vicinity.

5. Be Present

Patients often only seek acknowledgment, a reassurance that they are heard. Even if you have sat, listened, and understood their problem, you must show some sign that you are equally invested in what the patient has to say.

It is done by engaging in the conversation, asking relevant questions, and not doing so shows a lack of interest, putting patients in a bad mood.

Besides engagement, your body language also matters; a lot can be told by body language. Keeping in tune with your body language also helps control facial expressions, which are the window to emotions.

Maintain a neutral expression but not something that reflects seriousness; use the patient’s first name to assure them you are listening.

Choose how you articulate your words; safe sentences will help you guide sensitive discussions.


Taxing interactions are inevitable in the healthcare industry, so you must know how to tackle them. However, ask your peers or colleagues for help if you face issues.

After handling a difficult patient, you shouldn’t stress every little detail or think about the day’s events. Take time out for yourself or meditate to gather your senses because giving power to one difficult patient to ruin your day will only lead to more distress.

Bad days will always come around like good days; keeping a cool head is a ticket to sailing through the bad ones.

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