Nurse Interview Questions About Patient Complaints

Demonstrating flexibility and empathy

Female nurse sitting at desk talking to male patient
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Nursing is not an easy job, between juggling communication with doctors, patients and families. It may seem like someone is always complaining about something and the patient's stress can become your own when you're handling a barrage of complaints. Here are two skills to highlight during an interview that can illustrate how you handle the daily stresses of a demanding job, and potential interview questions to prepare for.


Nursing Skills to Highlight During an Interview

Flexibility: Every day can be different on the job; you never know what to expect and at the same time you have to keep everybody happy. As a nurse, you never know what the day will bring from varying shifts, heavy workloads, paperwork, and dealing physicians and families. Having a non-compliant patient who complains requires your to be flexible and think on your feet and come up with solutions to his problems while keeping everyone happy.

Empathy:  Giving patients care and showing concern and empathy are inherent parts of taking care of people who are sick, in pain or in crisis. Patients (and their families) need your attention but can be challenging when they complain, push your buttons or test your limits. Nurses may also deal with compassion fatigue -- essentially, an empathy burnout from helping people around the clock. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes patients' complaints are nothing more than a coping skill in a situation over which the patient has little control.

Interview Questions About Dealing With Patients' Complaints

  • How would you handle a patient who complains indiscriminately about everything?
  • How do you handle a patient who voices dislike for the food and refuses to eat? Or a patient who subsequently has his family bring in outside food that is contraindicated because of his diet?
  • How would you deal with a patient who complains of pain? And one who cannot have any additional pain medication?
  • How do you manage a patient's irritation when whiteboards aren't updated notifying him of whom his nurse on duty is?
  • How do you placate a patient who's disgruntled with his roommate?
  • How do you manage someone who complains about getting out of bed?
  • How do you encourage a patient who complains about taking care of his basic self-care?
  • How do you handle a patient who complains that his phone or television doesn't work?
  • Nurses or technicians have to do tests or draw blood in the middle of the night. How do you deal with patients who complain about interrupted or lack of sleep?
  • How do you handle a patient complaint about a noisy nursing station that irritates him or disrupts his sleep?
  • How do you deal with a patient who complains about your care, specifically?
  • What's your strategy for a patient complaining about inadequate response to his complaints?
  • What's your approach for a patient complaining about rude or inattentive staff?
  • How do you placate a patient complaining about long waits for tests?