20 Ways to Make Your Patient Smile

When you are sick and in the hospital, the last thing you are thinking about is smiling. Even for a nurse, the last thing you may be thinking about it making a patient smile.

However, it may be in the best interests of you both to make an effort toward smiling. When you smile, you can at least relieve the tension of a situation, if not make strides toward faster healing.

With these lofty goals in mind, here are 20 ideas you can use to help make your patient smile . . . and maybe lift your spirits as well.

1. Wear colorful and funny scrubs if allowed by your facility’s dress code.

2. Decorate your stethoscope, cart, or name badge with stickers if you can get away with it.

3. Always smile first at your patient when introducing yourself.

4. Laugh at your patient’s jokes, no matter how corny.

5. Tell your patient that you are going to listen to their heart to make sure it is still beating.

6. Tell your patient that the injection won’t hurt you a bit.

7. Don’t be afraid to be corny for a cheap laugh. A smile is a smile.

8. Puns are your friend and retelling old jokes is fair game.

9. Tell your patient you’ve done this procedure once before and they recovered after a couple of months.

10. Bring your patient something special, like an extra ice cream if they aren’t diabetic, to make them feel better about their situation.

11. Don’t be afraid to let your natural sense of humor shine if you sense that the patient would be receptive to you.

12. Help the patient find funny shows on television to make the patient laugh.

13. Start up a banter between you and the doctor or between you and a coworker to give the patient something to laugh about. It can take their mind off of a stressful procedure.

14. Never pass up an opportunity to crack a joke, provided that it is sensitive and appropriate to the situation.

15. Leave yourself open to taking jokes as well as giving them. If you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to make fun of yourself.

16. Tell funny stories about yourself or your family and encourage your patient to do the same.

17. Encourage your patient to simply talk about themselves and their home lives. Sometimes this can be enough to bring a smile to their face if your guide them in a positive direction.

18. Pets are a great source of happiness and joy. Talking about your own and those of your patient can often bring a smile to your patient’s face.

19. Realize that not all patients have a sense of humor and not all are in the mood to laugh. That’s okay.

20. Realize that not all situations are open to humor and that it can be detrimental and inappropriate. That’s okay, too. Use your judgement.


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