A pediatric nurse practitioner comforts an uncooperative patient

How to calm patients: the nurse's challenge

Whether you're a doctor or nurse at a hospital, on the staff at a nursing home, or a pediatric nurse practitioner, the tips below can quickly and effectively work for you.

  • Start before the appointment.

    Ask your front desk staff to ask a simple question when scheduling appointments or admitting patients: is there someone the patient can bring with her? It might be a trusted friend, a family member, or anyone with whom she feels comfortable and can stay objective.

    Why? When a patient is upset or receiving unwelcome news, it's difficult to truly hear the doctor. The presence of a trusted companion at her side can help her hear what the doctor is saying and make sense of the help he's offering.
  • Be contagious.

    If your nursing staff reacts to an uncooperative patient with their own stress—though that's natural—it quickly makes matters much worse. But if the nursing staff or doctor is calm, patients can literally "catch" their calmness.

    There are a number of simple techniques doctors and nurses can use to maintain their own composure; order our free Improving the Patient Experience guide or contact us about bringing a seminar or coach to your hospital or medical facility. It's easier than you might think.

    A note of caution here: be sure your doctors and nursing teams are marrying calmness with compassion, not boredom or detachment. An "I could care less about you" attitude will quickly escalate the situation. If you're seeking to improve patient satisfaction scores, this is the last thing your hospital or nursing home wants.
  • Stop trying to change patient behavior. Instead, study up on the brain.

    Learning about the brain doesn't have to be difficult or onerous. (Bring one of our Conscious DisciplineĀ® workshops to your hospital or nursing home, and you'll see how fun and enlightening it can be. We'll customize our workshop to your medical environment for no extra charge, regardless of the type of patient you serve.)

    Understanding the different brain states will allow your nursing staff to not only read the patient's brain—literally reading her feelings—but work to start changing the brain state by providing the patient what she needs to move her to the highest center of her brain. Once the patient begins operating from her prefrontal cortex, the result is always increased coherence and calmness.

Dealing with distressed or uncooperative patients isn't limited solely to nursing staff. To most quickly and effectively improve patient satisfaction, every doctor, nurse, and medical staff member a patient encounters must learn how to calm patients in a compassionate way, from the front desk to the MRI technician. We were recently asked by a hospital CFO, for instance, to not only work with nurses on different floors to help diminish patient upset but to train front desk staff to calm adults over the phone.

Kim Hughes, an award-winning consultant and Conscious Discipline® Certified Instructor who works with hospitals and other medical providers in the US, has written a simple but effective guide on improving the patient experience. It's free; simply request it below and look for it in your email box!

Click here to get your free Improving the Patient Experience guide.