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Nurse using stethoscope to examine patient.
Figure 15.1 The first encounter between the nurse and the patient is the beginning of the nurse’s assessment. During this encounter, the nurse will observe, listen, ask appropriate questions, and start the assessment process. (credit: FYNI Media/Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

So much information is gathered during the nurse’s first encounter with a patient. To support the gathering of necessary information, it is critical for the nurse to be observant, while also being friendly and welcoming. A friendly nurse encourages conversation and helps the patient to feel at ease. Through the nurse’s actions, words, and body language, a sense of trust and safety can be developed between the nurse and patient. Friendliness can develop the needed trust, while professionalism can help the patient feel safe in an unfamiliar environment. Building a relationship with patients helps establish trust. When patients feel comfortable with their nurse, they are more likely to share important information about their health, concerns, and preferences. Patients are more likely to ask questions, seek clarification, and share their thoughts and concerns when they feel a connection with their nurse.

Developing a relationship with patients allows nurses to better understand their individual needs, preferences, and values, which in turn enables the delivery of patient-centered care, tailored to the specific needs and goals of each patient. Developing relationships also provides emotional support, compliance, and engagement in care. The nurse should foster a sense of teamwork with the patient, striving together for the goal of the patient’s well-being. During this time, the nurse uses skills to assess the overall status of the patient and obtain vital data and measurements that guide the personalized care the patient deserves.

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