Helping patients is your passion, but they’re not all created equally. Some people are a joy to care for, but others are much more challenging.
A problematic patient might make you want to run out of the room screaming, but you can’t. As a healthcare professional, it’s your job to provide the same level of care to everyone. Here’s how to achieve this when your patient doesn’t make things easy.
5 Tips to Gracefully Handle a Difficult Patient
If you allow them to, a difficult patient can easily get under your skin. Matching their negative energy with aggression will only elevate the situation, so you have to keep it together. Take a deep breath and silently count to three. This will help you regain your composure and face your patient with a newfound sense of peace.
Win Them Over With Kindness
It’s hard to be rude to someone who is unwaveringly nice to you. Your patient came in with a bad attitude, but if you work hard to turn that around, there’s a good chance you’ll succeed. When they realize you truly want to help them, they’ll likely feel bad for being short with you in the first place.
Find Common Ground
People enjoy being around others they can relate to, so try to find something in common with your patient. This could be anything from a favorite football team to a shared hometown, as long as it brings the two of you closer together. They’ll almost definitely ease up on you when they realize your shared bond.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
It’s only natural to feel frustrated when a patient isn’t cooperating with you. However, it’s important to empathize with them. Most likely, you’re seeing them at their worst, because they’re not feeling well and possibly scared about their diagnosis. Take a second to count your own blessings and let this gratitude steer your interactions with the person.
Some patients might push back on directives from you or have a gruff demeanor, but there are limits to what you have to take. If the patient speaks to you in a derogatory manner, let them know that isn’t okay. Make it clear you will not continue to care for them if they don’t treat you with the respect you deserve.
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