8 Tips For Nurses To Build Trust with Their Patients

Nurses spend a significant amount of time with patients delivering treatment, changing bedding, and providing a full continuum of care round the clock. As the frontline bedside staff, a strong bond with your patients is instrumental for their speedy recovery, patient satisfaction, and overall experience of medical intervention.

Building trust and good rapport with the patient is considered one of the most crucial aspects of a nurse’s role. Nurses who work on establishing a positive relationship with patients better understand their needs and emotions, which comes in handy in delivering the highest levels of care. In addition, gaining an insight into the patient’s personality can help you notice underlying health problems and know how to keep your patient in good spirits.

Although nurses gain knowledge about therapeutic communication and rapport building in nursing schools, in the fast-paced, evolving world of nursing, some things may slip through the cracks. Here are a few tips to help you establish a good rapport with the people counting on you for care.

Hone your skills and become knowledgeable

Often patients think that nurses are not knowledgeable and are merely a doctor’s help hands. However, this popular misconception is far from the truth, and you could go the extra mile to convince patients. Working on soft skills, technical skills, and medical know-how will enable you to deliver better care and thus help the trust-building process between your patient and you. But if you are finding it hard to upskill while juggling clinical and academic responsibilities, you can get some relief by enrolling in a flexible program on the internet. The optimal option is to acquire an MSN online rather than struggling with campus-based studies. Through cutting-edge course work, distance learning programs allow you to advance your studies in your area of interest at your own pace while continuing your clinical practice in the meantime. The more knowledgeable you are, the easier it is for patients to entrust you with their lives.

Get to know your patient

An introduction is the first step in building any relationship, and healthcare settings are no exception. With loads of patients to care for, introducing oneself may sound like a repetitive task to a nurse and addition to their laundry list of responsibilities. However, for patients, this practice matters the most as they entrust you with their lives. Asking your patients about their hobbies, family, interests, and the name they want to be called with can go a long way in building a bond of trust with them.

Dress professionally

A simple step towards building a trustworthy relationship with your patient is dressing up professionally. Patients entrust you with their most precious possession- their life, so it is essential that they see you as their advocate, as someone professional they can rely on and who will work in their best interests. Scrubs are a symbol of trust, authority, and expertise. Patients are primed to associate people wearing nursing uniforms with having the best knowledge and extensive training, thus making them a reliable source of care. Choose your nursing scrubs appropriately for the setting you are in. Ensure that your scrubs are neat and well-maintained in your first patient-nurse meeting. While it is hard to keep your uniform in an immaculate condition in a hospital setting, always keep a spare set for your ease.

Be an active listener

An essential healthcare tool to build rapport with your patient is conversing with them actively and patiently. Listening to your patients involves more than just humming to their concerns and queries. Being an active listener will help you better understand where your patients are coming from, what’s on their minds, and uncover disease symptoms. Listening attentively to your patients makes them feel like they are cared for, and in return, they put their trust in you. So, the next time you visit your patients, make eye contact and listen to them carefully by asking follow-up questions. Also, your body language plays a significant role in building a trusting bond with your patient. Lean towards them while conversing, be polite, or even hold their hand to ensure that they are in the right hands.

Communicate well

Effective communication is the key to building a trusting relationship with your patient. After an introductory session to create a snapshot of your patient’s life, communicate their problem at their level of understanding. In some cases, you may get frustrated trying to explain a simple thing repeatedly. But people are not acquainted with medical jargon, so it is vital to explain their problems in a lucid and straightforward manner. Building trust is not a one-time action; it involves repeated encounters. So, you need to communicate well and often, validate their fears, and desires which can help strengthen your bond with the patient and improve patient outcomes.

Show respect and empathy

As a nurse, you are bound to respect your patients’ values, beliefs, and privacy. You need to find out what makes them uncomfortable and what puts them at ease. You are responsible for making the patients feel as if they are safe and that the person responsible for their care is mindful of what they believe and need. You must also ensure complete privacy if a patient needs to get undressed for treatment or does not want information shared with their family.

One of the most crucial steps in building a strong bond with your patient is being empathetic. Although you come across loads of the same disease cases, it’s not the same for your patient. Your simple words and gestures expressing concern and empathy for them can go a long way in their journey to better health. When you see a situation from your patient’s perspective, you will be better able to deliver individualized care to every patient.

Keep your word

Being honest and keeping your word can help you earn the trust of your patients quickly. Although you may be tempted to say, “Don’t worry! Everything will be fine,” to ease a distressed patient, be honest with them at all costs. Patients and their families appreciate honesty even if your words are hard to accept. Follow through on what you say to your patients. If you tell them that you will bring a chair for their visitors, ensure you do so. If you promise them to get the pain relievers they asked for, keep your word. Avoid promising anything that you can’t guarantee to do. Making false promises can breach the trust they put in you.

Follow up on your patient’s health

As a nurse, you are committed and devoted to your patient’s health and well-being. But this doesn’t always end as your patients are out of your direct care. This is especially true for patients with chronic illnesses who may return to you for more care sooner than later. Spare some time in your busy schedule and ring up your patients for a follow-up session to see if they are doing fine. This will not only help strengthen your bond but also let you spot any warning signs that might hinder their recovery process.


A caring nurse can make a world of difference in a patient’s life and well-being. Patients feel vulnerable and scared in a hospital setting where they are supposed to hand over their life to someone they don’t know. As the frontline healthcare staff, nurses need to calm their patients and build a trusting relationship with them to adhere to treatment plans and a speedy recovery. This article mentions some simple tips to build a trusting relationship with your patients. These include upskilling your knowledge to be more trustable, knowing and understanding your patient, dressing professionally, listening to and addressing your patients’ concerns, and finally keeping a check on their health to become someone that the patients can trust and rely on.