Nurse,  Nursing Profession,  Uncategorized

That Certain Patient

Dianne Cabelus-Braley



I think it’s safe to assume many of us as nurses at one point or another have had that certain patient that we
somewhere along the way became a little attached to,  maybe caring about a wee bit more than the rest.  I realize as a nurse this probably is politically incorrect to say but this happens.  We are human.  But if we are performing our job correctly it is that we care more about not provide better care for certain patients from time to time.  In other words…  We kinda just like them better.  That being said we as nurses take an oath and in that we are to provide the best care that we can while remaining neutral, empathetic and objective but this does not mean we are lack emotion.  As a nurse that is the main component in our job, to care which is based on emotion. With some certain patients we just find ourselves becoming a bit more invested.  The reasons this happens, who
knows?Sometimes we relate to the person and find commonalities between us.  Other times they may remind us of someone we know or maybe we just get along well.  I think that we have all found with some certain patients we invest a little extra time and this can make it that much harder to leave them and even more difficult when they leave us.  I know that for me the patients that I have bonded with the most are the stubborn difficult ones who have a quick wit but can make you crazy.  My husband would say that type of person is very familiar to him.I have found these are my most challenging patients but the ones that I get the most satisfaction in helping when they finally allow me to do that.  A nurse patient relationship is an intimate and unique one.  It’s really no
wonder we get attached at times.  In this profession there are many highs and just as many lows and we occasionally find ourselves on an emotional roller coaster.

So how to deal…

Rule number one is you need to balance empathy with objectivity and this can be difficult, especially for a
new nurse.  It can be a slippery slope when you are to care for someone but at the same time not become emotionally invested.  While yes, with some patients being objective and neutral will be easy to do.
Others you may find it hard to balance and that’s normal.

How to balance…

Keep it professional and keep the focus on the patient.  You don’t need to disclose your personal life to with your patient and it is actually unprofessional if you do.  You can have conversations but keep things general and non-specific about yourself.  This is not only in your best interest but in the best interest of the patient.  The
focus should always be on them.

Start off on the right foot…

Getting to close can cloud judgement so start off with each patient the same.  Learn to keep a compassionate distance to protect yourself and your patients.  This can start with setting clear expectations and boundaries with your patient and their families in the beginning as to the role you will play in providing care.  I have found being a homecare nurse for years this is of vital importance.  Start off right.


Take personal inventory…

Reflect on how your feeling throughout the time you are spending with the patient.  Are you divulging to much personal information?  Are you becoming emotionally invested?  Is the care you are providing in your patients best therapeutic interest.  If you feel that the boundaries have become blurry.  Talk to a co-worker or manager about switching assignments or maybe  not seeing this patient for awhile.  Protect yourself and protect your patients.


Dianne Cabelus-Braley is a registered nurse currently working as a clinical documentation specialist
and nurse blogger.  She has a had a lengthy and colorful career in nursing and also holds specialized credentials in both nutrition and aesthetics. Dianne resides on the north shore of Massachusetts and is married with two
human children and is also mom to two dogs and five chickens. You can check out Dianne’s blog at
Thanks Diane for this great post!