Building Trust

At the root of a good patient/provider relationship is trust. If I am a patient I want to trust that you are following policies and procedures the right way when you are giving me a treatment. I want to trust that you really know the medical aspects of kidney disease so that when you give me advice, it is correct and up-to-date. I need to be able to trust that even on the days when you are busy, you will take the time to answer my questions, listen to my concerns, and treat me with dignity and respect.

Building trust with patients takes time and effort on your part. Far too often healthcare professionals want to assume that they deserve trust just because of their degree or years of practice. In the real world, you need to earn the trust of your patients. A trusting relationship with your patients will help improve clinic outcomes—and improve your work life and your patients’ satisfaction.

Tips for Building Trust

  • Always tell the truth; never lie
  • Follow through on your commitments
  • Be open to an exchange of ideas with your patients
  • Accept feedback (positive and critical) from your patients
  • Be consistent and treat each patient equally
  • Focus on understanding your patients’ needs and wants
  • Be clear about what you expect

Terry has now been on dialysis for about 2 weeks. He is starting to learn how the process works. He still feels weak, tired, and nauseated and is frustrated that he doesn’t feel better by now. Terry has not been able to work. He is starting to get nervous about his finances and fears that he will lose his job. His wife is very supportive of him, but Terry feels guilty about being sick and not working, and he feels like a burden.

Terry has been very guarded in the clinic and the staff think he is not sharing much about himself or what he needs. You and Terry seem to get along well, and he has shared some personal information with you. He told you he is “nervous” about his future and doesn’t know why everybody asks him so many questions about “his business.” Terry also shared with you that his doctor is hard to talk to, and that he has many questions, but doesn’t know where to start. You see that Terry is trying to reach out to you, but because he doesn’t know you well yet, he is going slow and trying to decide if he can trust you.