Professional boundaries are an important part of any career, but especially in the medical industry. Nurses and other healthcare practitioners have a duty to remain as objective as possible when dealing with patients and their family members. This is why it is critical that you always remain professional while on the job. Here are some things to consider when establishing professional boundaries with the families of your patients.

Good Communications Skills

Maintaining professional relationships with your patients and their families requires excellent communications skills. Without this, the rest of these pieces will never fall into place. The good news is that you can continue to learn and improve your communications skills over time to help you be more professional at work.

The Need to Avoid Developing Favorites

When you start to slip into unprofessional territory, there are some bad habits that can surface. One is developing favorites. Patients are people too and you’ll like some of them more than others, but playing favorites can lead to very uncomfortable situations with the families of your least liked patients. Our boundary issues with those you like the most. You need to treat everyone with equal attention.

Setting Healthy Limits

You also need to establish healthy limits with the family of your patients. They may ask you for favors or information that you’re not able to give, and if you do you may be crossing boundaries in your professionalism or what you can provide as a caregiver. It is important that you remain professional and let the family understand the scope of your work.

Avoiding Unnecessary and Damaging Gossip

When you do cross the boundary into overfamiliarity with the family of your patients, you also run the risk of saying something that is unintentionally damaging. Gossip about others in the facility or practice can come back to haunt you in a very negative way even if that was never your intention.

Going Beyond Your Expertise

Finally, there can also be real, tangible, results to your unprofessional behavior. For instance, if you’re asked to go beyond the purview of not only your job but your actual training, what you do next can negatively impact the patient, their family, the facility, and your own career. It is best to maintain these boundaries across the board.

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