Building Exceptional Bedside Manner


Forensic nurses spend a large amount of their time examining victims of sexual assault and violent crime. These patients are often scared, traumatized and in need of a place to feel safe and protected. While all nurses can benefit from good bedside manner, nurses tending to these emotionally vulnerable patients need to have exceptional interpersonal skills to successfully help these patients recover and get the information necessary to bring their assailants to justice. Here are a few tips on bolstering your bedside manner.

Put your personal issues aside. There’s no doubt that nursing can be a stressful job and seeing numerous patients in a day, especially those beaten and abused can be hard work. While your job may not always be a walk in the park, it’s likely that your patient has had a much worse day and needs you to be a shoulder to lean on even if you’re not in the best of moods.

Work to build a rapport. Whether you ask them about their lives or just provide great medical care, building a strong relationship with patients can help them to feel better, recover faster and feel more secure in opening up about the details of their incident.

Just listen. Sometimes all a patient needs to start healing is to share their story. Even if you’re having a busy day, set aside time for your patients so they can feel truly cared about and listened to, especially if they don’t have friends or family to keep them company at the hospital.

Be patient and gentle. Not all patients will be forthcoming with medical information or details about their assaults. Getting frustrated or angry with these patients won’t make it any easier for them or you, so take your time and work with them. Using a soothing voice, moving slowly around the room and avoiding loud noises can also help to calm them down and make them feel more secure.

Explain everything. Many victims of trauma, especially those of sexual assault, feel out of control and violated and can be very reticent to let anyone examine their body. If you need to do medical procedures, make sure you explain everything you’re doing and ensure that the patient is comfortable before proceeding, that way they can start to gain some sense of control over their bodies.

We’re all human and sometimes we have good and bad days, but making a conscious effort to be supportive and understanding of patients can make a world of difference in their lives and in yours.

This post was contributed by Nicole White, who writes about ultrasound tech schools. She welcomes your feedback at Nicole.White222 at

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