As a medical professional, you are in a position to become intimately familiar with your patients and their families. And while you are there specifically to learn about and care for these individuals, there are still some topics of conversation best left on the table. Some topics can be difficult to discuss, while other can evoke emotions of anger or frustration. So what should you avoid and how do you handle it if these conversations are brought up in your presence? Let’s take a closer look.

Politics and religion.

With the sole exception of understanding your patients’ spiritual needs, discussing religion is generally considered an inappropriate topic of conversation with strangers. This is also true with politics. Your patient may want some company and someone to talk with, but if this topic comes up it is best to casually change the focus of the conversation to something less divisive.

Intimate details.

When we become comfortable with someone it is easy to feel like you can discuss anything. Nursing professionals have to be intimately familiar with their patients to some degree, but that doesn’t mean you should discuss sensitive issues with them. Unless the issue directly relates to the care you’re providing, avoid the topic.

Interpersonal problems.

Most non-medical workplaces understand how drama happens when people begin talking about their personal lives. Personality conflicts, different behaviors, and frustration about unrelated things can lead to drama. The same can happen when you’re in a position of a healthcare provider. Don’t discuss troubles you’re having with others and casually change the subject if the patient persists.

Details of your health.

Finally, while it may seem like discussing your own experiences is a good way to bond with a patient, it doesn’t always work out to be a positive interaction. Your patient may be confused and upset about their own diagnosis, so your stories of recovery or family members’ battles with the same illness will likely hit a nerve rather than comfort them.

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