Being A Better Nurse: The Human Factor

I’m not a nurse, but I have been around many and it’s quite clear to anyone with eyes that it is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Nurses are often overworked, underpaid, and expected to perform miracles on a daily basis. Nurses are on the frontlines in hospitals and have to deal with some of the biggest [insert naughty word here]people on the planet, however they also need to deal with scared little children, and worried families. Many people in hospitals are scared on some level, even if it’s just that their care and life is dependent on other people. You can be the best medical professional in the world, but to be a nurse, you have to embrace the human factor.

Being A Better Nurse: The Human Factor


Simple rule for life: smile more. When a nurse walks into your room, or pulls back the curtain and their face is expressionless, your first thought is, ‘wow, I’m going to die’. A smile instantly puts people at ease and when it comes from a position of power (like a nurse or doctor) it soothes and calms the patient, reassuring them that everything is -and will continue to be – fine.

Treat People as Individuals

As a nurse, you’re going to meet hundreds of people and it’s very easy for them to form a faceless mass, but to the individual, they are just tired, hurting, and scared and looking for someone to show them some kindness. By remembering their name without having to check the little board and by speaking to them as if you were a casual acquaintance at a party will make them feel valued and not just a piece of cattle that you occasionally poke.

Become a Human

It works both ways as well. By trying to treat them as a human, you seem more human to the patient, which makes them more likely to give truthful answers to your questions, plus it makes you more relatable and approachable if the patient has a problem that they need help with. Doing the above is great, but you could also try getting a nice new nursing badge with your name on it. I know they have standard issue ones, but getting a more personal one, with a nice pattern will make you seem more approachable to the patient, as well.


This is a tricky one. You need to be friendly and be able to put their mind at ease; however you are there to do a job and it’s a hard one and one in which the patients can get in the way. You need to learn to be firm but fair (like all good teachers) and know when to be the nice nurse who is the patient’s buddy and the nurse that needs to get their job done, so shut up and listen. By demonstrating competency in your role, the patient will know when it’s time to stop being a nuisance and letting you do your job.

Most nurses I’ve encountered are excellent and are able to do all of this and more. They are a treasure to be savoured and respected, however I have also had nurses where the above doesn’t come naturally and they make your stay in hospital very unpleasant. Just remember to smile, guys and you’ll do fine.

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