Establishing and Maintaining a Professional Relationship

Many nurses in practice today received their basic nursing education in an era that proscribed personal relationships between nurses and patients/families. It is not professional, they were taught, to allow any personal elements into the relationship; nurses should not discuss their own lives, families, experiences, or issues. For nurses who work with families of children with special needs for many years, this advice is unrealistic and even counterproductive.

Today, there are more realistic guidelines governing professional practice. Beckman, Frank, and Newcomb (1996) promote an excellent set of precepts for professionals who wish to demonstrate respect, acceptance, and empathy for the family of a child with disabilities. Concepts not previously covered in parts I and II of this series of courses are summarized on the next 3 pages.