Being professionally assertive as a newly qualified practitioner is a challenge. You will need to be assertive in a range of situations, for example, in your role with team members organising work, or in your role with patients/clients and their carers in delivering healthcare. This unit offers you some strategies and resources that can help you deal with these challenging situations, and the opportunity to reflect on how well you are doing.

Assertiveness skills

The following websites will increase your understanding of how important assertiveness skills are in your new role. You may also wish to do a further web search using the key phrase "assertiveness skills". As you are looking at them, identify strategies that will be useful and information about situations that you are likely to encounter.


The following resources are intended for use by patients/clients but contain information, which you may find useful.

Reviewing your assertiveness skills – PDP

With your mentor/NHS KSF reviewer, discuss areas of your practice where you feel you would like to work on being more assertive. Identify and agree the priorities for you to work toward over the next 3 months. These should be reflected in your Personal Development Plan.

It is suggested that you repeat this activity every 3 months.

Asserting your professional role

By this stage in your career, you will have experienced situations where it was necessary to use your assertiveness skills to clarify to others the role that you play in providing healthcare.  This may have been within the multi-professional team, with patients/clients/carers or with external agencies.

Reflect on how you responded in these situations:

  • what sort of situations have you found it necessary to use your assertiveness skills in?
  • how confident did you feel in doing this?
  • how would you respond in future if you encountered a similar situation?
  • are there some skills that you need to develop further?

Record your reflections for your portfolio.

Assertiveness scenarios

From the following 5 scenarios, select 1 or 2 that reflect your clinical area. Work through these to help you develop your understanding of assertiveness.

Work through scenarios or discuss your responses with your mentor and/or other health professionals. You can also discuss their experiences of similar situations. This will help you develop your assertiveness skills and understanding of difficult situations and how best to deal with them.

Scenario 1

You have assessed a patient/client and left instructions for anyone working with him/her to encourage as much self-care as possible. On passing the ward, you notice that a healthcare support worker is feeding the patient/client, even though there is adaptive cutlery that the patient/client could use.

What can you do?

  • how will you approach this situation?
  • what information will you want to know about the situation?
  • using your assertiveness skills, how might you raise this situation with the patient/client, healthcare support worker and team?
  • how will you reinforce the use of the adaptive cutlery?

Discuss what you think you should do with your mentor.

Scenario 2

You visit a patient/client at home and they refuse to let you in.

How can you deal with this situation:

  • what factors may be influencing their decision to let you in?
  • what are the key reasons you need to see them?
  • what consequences would result if they do not let you in?
  • using your assertiveness skills, how might you persuade the patient/client of the need for them to see you?

Discuss what you think you would do with your mentor. They will have valuable experience of dealing with situations like this that you can learn from.

Scenario 3 

You have just attended a team meeting and feel that you did not contribute to the discussions as assertively as you would have liked to.

How can you make sure that you contribute more fully at the next meeting:

  • identify the factors that inhibited you from contributing
  • in discussion with your mentor, plan ways you can use assertiveness skills to meet your goals
  • review your learning needs and what you have learned that you can put into action

Discuss your plan with your mentor and after the next team meeting, re-evaluate your contribution to discussions.

Scenario 4

You have taken a telephone call from an angry relative demanding information about a patient's/client's treatment plan. You have not been actively involved with this patient/client.

How do you deal with this situation:

  • what assertiveness skills could you draw upon to resolve the situation?
  • If you are unable to help with the information they are demanding, what is your next step and how will you respond to them?
  • what are the key factors that have contributed to this situation?

Discuss what you think you would do with your mentor. They will have valuable experience of dealing with situations like this that you can learn from.

Scenario 5

You have been approached by the angry wife and children of a patient/client who is due to be discharged home tomorrow. They claim to have been 'kept in the dark' regarding the discharge plans and are adamant that he will not be able to cope when he returns home.

How can you work towards resolving this situation?

Discuss what you think you would do with your mentor. They will have valuable experience of dealing with situations like this that you can learn from.


Having worked through a selection of the activities in this section, you should summarise your learning, highlighting how this may affect your future practice. You can share your findings with your mentor.

Add an alert to your Flying Start NHS® portfolio and/or make a date in your diary to revisit Assertiveness Skills.