Etiquette tips for bringing fun to your patient’s day

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Nurses are the first to tell you that their jobs are stressful. One way to release this stress? Laughter. But how can you have fun with patients while remaining professional? Check out these seven tips for successfully bringing laughter to your patients (and yourself!):



  • Nurses can keep a patient’s situation and care from becoming mundane. Start by keeping a smile on your face and a song in your heart. The old adage about sharing a smile is true. I also listen to my favorite music on my way to work and try to hum it throughout the day.
  • Never laugh at a patient, no matter how funny the situation is. If the situation becomes more than you can handle, cover your mouth and step out of the room.
  • Laughing with a patient can release not only your stress, but also the patient’s. I often use humor to redirect a patient’s thoughts during procedures.
  • You may be thinking that humor must be in the form of a joke. Not true! When admitting an alert and oriented patient, I always greet the patient by welcoming them to the hospital and the unit, and thank them for allowing me to keep my job by visiting our hospital. It’s an easy icebreaker and usually brings a smile. When the patient returns my humor with a scowl, I know that humor is not an acceptable part of this patient’s care plan.
  • Humor also can be used with family members. Stay attuned to the family and patient interactions, and always remain supportive and caring.
  • Sometimes we care for very sick patients, and the last thing they need is humor. In these circumstances, the care turns into a gentler and respectful interaction. Just remember to tune in to your patient’s demeanor when you step into their room at the beginning of your shift.
  • Try to stay positive when caring for your patients. They don’t need to hear your problems, unless they ask. Patients have enough problems of their own.

Remember to bring your smile to work with you and try to find the positive in each situation, and you will never be bored!

Candace Finch, BSN, RN, is an orthopedics/bariatrics nurse who often looks at the world through rose-colored glasses. She loves to share her smile and tries to stay positive in the face of adversity.

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