Building Patient Trust Requires Action

 Published: June 26, 2018

By: Heather Willden


image of doctor working with mother and daughter

The relationship between the RT and patient must be built with trust. Having a strong foundation of patient trust is mutually beneficial, and ultimately leads to an overall improved patient experience. AARC Member Karen M. Sicard, RRT, RCP, discusses the importance of building trust and offers suggestions.

Be active

“Patient trust. In my 40 years as a respiratory therapist I have found that active listening, kindness and responding to the ‘asks,’ no matter how busy, opens the door to a mutual trust,” Sicard said.

Sicard believes this practice is true in various sections of the profession, such as the acute care, critical care, and chronic care and clinic environments.

“If you take time to stop, look them in the eye with kindness, listen and respond sometimes with a simple head nod, you build a bond of trust,” Sicard said.

What others say

Sicard asked her colleagues at WellStar Respiratory Care Services how they build trust with their patients. Here’s how they responded:

Find common ground

“I look for something we may have in common when I enter the room. It may be the weather or TV show and find some humor in it. Laughter helps break the ice and finds a common ground of communication.”


“I answer their questions truthfully and simply. Then I clarify that they understand our discussion.”

Take time to listen

“No matter how rushed I am, I take the time to stop and listen when I am with them.”

Be responsive

“If they ask me for something I will either get it for them or make sure I notify someone of the request. Then I go back and tell the patient who I spoke to and their response.”

Stay true to your word

“Listening and following through with a commitment to them. If I say I’ll be back in 5 min, I’m back in five minutes.”

Email with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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