Whether you’ve worked in a medical facility for years, are starting your own practice in search for medical suites for lease, or just starting out as a nurse practitioner, you will undoubtedly have to deal with difficult patients in your practice. As humans, we all feel some sort of stress or anxiety when we are in pain, not feeling healthy, or totally like ourselves. We can become angry, demanding, and insufferable to those who do not feel our pain. Understanding this fact when you work in the medical field is crucial, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Difficult patients can really try your patience, which is why it is key to know what to do in these problematic situations.
Being Aware & Empathetic
Two of the most important things to start with in dealing with difficult patients is to be aware and to empathize. Being aware means you are able to clearly recognize when a patient’s mood has shifted and identify the root cause. Being aware also means that you can clearly separate the patient’s behavior, empathizing with their situation, rather than taking it personal and reacting. Most of the time, the patient is not actually angry at you — they are angry at the pain or the lack of independence they’re feeling. Try putting yourself in their shoes and let them know you care and understand how hard their situation can be.
The best tactic in dealing with difficult patients is staying calm. Being aware will help this by recognizing that the patient is only reacting to or resisting their pain, even if they are yelling at you. Staying calm in the face of anger and frustration by not reacting helps you to control the situation and inevitably alleviate the intense energy in the room.
Most of the time, the pain and anguish felt by patients is amplified by mental overload. It is not uncommon for a patient to dwell on the pain and spiral downward into thinking about all the possible outcomes of their pain. They may be thinking of how they’ll never be able to play their favorite sport again, how they’ll never look the same, or any number of negative possibilities that their condition may cause. You can help these patients get out of this negative spiral by engaging with them in conversation. Most of the time, they just want to be heard and seen, which you can do by making eye contact with them, remembering their name, and listening to them without judgment or frustration. If a patient is expressing remorse toward you or a situation, listen to them calmly without interruption, tell them you understand and hear them, and perhaps even paraphrase back what they explained. At this point, because you took the time to calmly listen, they will most likely agree to listen to you too. Now control is in your hands and you can calmly explain what you must do or their options. Asking your patients questions also shows that you care about their needs and respect their feelings.
Some patients can really get your goat through yelling or saying nasty things. Try to separate this as much as possible to avoid taking it personally. At the end of the day, arguing and getting defensive is NOT going to help you or the patient. The more you can avoid stooping down to their level, the better you can perform your job.
Of course, we are all human and there is a limit to how far our patience and compassion can extend. It’s important to also recognize your needs and know when you need to set a boundary with a patient. Taking a few moments to collect yourself and letting the patient know when you’ll return is a good way to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
Dealing with difficult patients is no easy task and it’s important that you keep your own stress and anxiety in mind. Letting go of the day’s struggles is crucial to leaving work at the work-place so you can still enjoy your life. If you are about to embark on the journey of owning your own medical practice and are currently searching for medical suites for lease, try Boulevard Medical Properties. At Boulevard, we custom build our offices to meet your needs so that you have less time worrying about building logistics and more time to focus on the well-being of your patients. We understand that dealing with difficult patients is taxing on your level of stress, so let us handle finding you medical suites for lease. If you’d like to find out more about our options, please visit our website today.