Nursing: Dating Patients
Undoubtedly, you have spent a great deal of time in nursing school discussing the nurse-patient relationship. Presumably, you have also discussed the concept of the "therapeutic relationship." A therapeutic realtionship between practitioner and patient, in simple terms, is one in which optimum results for the patient can be achieved.
This brings us to the subject of dating your patients or getting romantically involved with them. Although this is considered taboo in many cases, I know of a few nurses who have married former patients. Occasionally you will even hear of a nurse who marries a patient currently in his or her care. While it may appear to have worked out well for a few, understand that you are treading on thin ice, and slippery legal advice if you move in this direction. Some states in the United states have laws prohibiting sexual contact between caregivers, and their charges. this is obviously very serious. If you are suspected of impropriety or accused of the same, it can minimally result in disciplinary action by your employer and/or state board of nursing or other governing body. Many consider dating and sexual activity with patients, at the very least, unethical and unprofessional.
Here we get into issues of professional boundaries. The intimate nature of nursing care, both physical and emotional, can lead to a misunderstanding of feelings and relationships. Also, there is an unequal balance of power in the relationship, with the nurse clearly having the upper hand. The patient is very vulnerable, the nurse has access to personal information about the patient and the nurse has access to all of that information.
Getting romantically involved with a patient - with or without sexual contact - compromises the professional association. There is a delicate balance required to maintain appropriate boundaries in the therapeutic relationship. So...as a general rule when thinking of getting involved with a patient....not a good idea.