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Working in Partnership: Nurses and Patients


The partnership between nurses and patients is a major theme discussed in professional and academic literature worldwide. In New Zealand, the principles of partnership are taught in educational institutions and encouraged in the health care industry. The present paper aims at assessing how nurses in New Zealand use partnership in their everyday practice. Also, will discuss the connection of the Treaty of Waitangi into nursing practice.

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Partnership in New Zealand and Abroad

The partnership between nurses and patients is an essential principle used in most western-based healthcare systems. According to Baillie (2016), a partnership can be defined as a power balance in the relationship that promotes choice, equality, honesty, and participation. In nursing practice, partnership implies enabling patients together with their families, carers, and representatives to participate in decision-making about their health (Billie, 2016). The effect is achieved by providing relevant and comprehendible information to patients by nurses.

The partnership is an integral part of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty includes four principles that guide nursing practice in New Zealand. First, nurses should put every effort to promote Maori self-determination over health and affirm the right to development and managing interests (Nursing Council of New Zealand [NCNZ], 2011). Second, nurses should work together with Maori to improve health outcomes (NCNZ, 2011). Third, nurses are to acknowledge Maori taonga and protect it (NCNZ, 2011). Finally, the nursing workforce should provide equitable access to healthcare (NCNZ, 2011).

However, the partnership is not always an integral part of care in modern settings. Boyle et al. (2016) conducted a qualitative study to describe the experiences of women’s partnership with midwives during the prenatal period. The researchers recruited 16 women to identify if midwives work in partnership with their patients. The results revealed that due to the lack of time and continuity of care, midwives addressed only the physical needs of patients ignoring their emotional and psycho-social needs (Boyle et al., 2016).

The article discusses two themes central to working in partnership with patients. First, Boyle et al. (2016) mention that a trusting relationship or emotional connectedness is necessary to establish partner relationships between patients and midwives. Women felt more protected when they had trusting relationships with midwives because the patients were sure that midwives would “endeavor to provide care in response to their wishes” (Boyle et al., 2016, p. 26). Second, Boyle et al. (2016) mention the theme of choice frequently in their study. The women reported that they felt they did not have a choice in terms of care provision (Boyle et al., 2016).

Working in partnership is crucial as it enables patients to use self-care practices. Research by Fu et al. (2016) studied how working in partnership helps patients to experience a change in self-management. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients who have chronic back pain to understand if working in partnership helped engage in self-care practices. The study concluded that a good patient-provider partnership could positively influence patient outcomes by fostering self-care practices.

The first theme discussed in the article is the importance of patient-professional communication. The interviewees mentioned that communication helped to create an emotional connection between patient and care provider, which created a sense of safety (Fu et al., 2016). The second theme was sharing knowledge about the most efficient self-care practices through patient education. Fu et al. (2016) emphasize when working in partnership, patients are more likely to practice the knowledge about self-care practices the professionals shared with them.

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Partnership in Practice

To evaluate how third-year students establish a partnership with their patients, one such student was interviewed. To establish a partnership, he greets patients with a smile to create a positive environment. He tends to spend extra time with patients from other cultures to know them better to avoid negative stereotyping. The student uses active listening, shows empathy, and gives genuine compliments to ensure a harmonious environment. In general, the student’s approach is similar to the idea of emphatic partnership introduced by Flemmer et al. (2014). This concept emphasizes the importance of the environment, knowledge, language, reflection, and empathy to establish a trusting relationship with the patient (Flemmer et al., 2014). The student understands the importance of these matters and builds his practice around them.

Student practices open and honest communication with his patients to continue working in partnership. Before doing any procedure, he explains the procedure and allows the patients to participate in the activity. This makes them feel respected and gives a sense of control, which is vital, according to Wepa (2015, pp. 27-28). As mentioned above, patients are to be given a chance to comment on negatively perceived practices (Wepa, 2015, 27-28). However, the student encountered some barriers when trying to work in partnership with clients. One of them was that he made assumptions about the literacy of patients, and he sometimes was unable to use plain language to facilitate understanding. However, it can be concluded that the student demonstrates significant skills in maintaining a partnership with patients.


Establishing partnership among patients and nurses is of extreme importance for improving patient outcomes. Partnership encourages the empowerment and participation of patients in care. The partnership is widely discussed in the literature and embedded in the Treaty. The interview with a third-year student revealed that the principles of partnership are widely used in daily practice.


Baillie, L. (2016). Working in partnership with patients and carers. Nursing Standard, 31(15), 42-45.

Boyle, S., Thomas, H., & Brooks, F. (2016). Women׳s views on partnership working with midwives during pregnancy and childbirth. Midwifery, 32, 21-29. Web.

Flemmer, N., Dekker, L., & Doutrich, D. (2014). Empathetic partnership: An interdisciplinary framework for primary care practice. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 10(8), 545-551.

Nursing Council of New Zealand. (2011). Guidelines for cultural safety, the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori health in nursing education and practice. Web.

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Wepa, D. (Ed.). (2015). Cultural safety in Aotearoa New Zealand (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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