Posted on: 13 April 2016
Besides the clinical skills that registered nurses must learn to do their jobs, top nursing programs are teaching ways that compassion can be used in the delivery of healthcare services. These skills are what makes the difference between a professional nurse and merely a good clinical technician. Here is how compassion works to advance a nurse's skills and reputation.
This level of nursing compassion consists of two components:
- Mastering the skills used to deliver quality healthcare to patients.
- Using those skills in a caring and respectful manner.
A nurse may be skilled at giving injections, but patients can have a range of feelings about being pricked with a needle. Compassionate caring is about understanding the patient's fears and their expectations about a procedure. The nursing professional should engage the patient in ways where they are both involved in the patient's care. Some patients benefit from education while others need more assurance. Each patient is different, so the nurse must determine how best to make a procedure palatable to the patient.
Nurses are detail oriented. This especially applies to conversation with a patient. Often what's more important in the conversation is what is not said. Patients hold back information for fear of embarrassment or ridicule. Compassionate nurses are taught to listen beyond the words and try to get at the truth.
In response to the question "How do you feel?" a patient may hesitate and respond very quietly "I feel OK." The nurse will notice any hesitation and soft responses and say "I wonder if you're in more pain that you're telling me?" This opens up the communication channel to the patient and let's them know that it's safe to be truthful.
Sometimes a simple touch changes a situation. The compassionate nurse knows how to use touch therapeutically without overdoing it. A nurse may respond to a patient who is fearful about going into surgery by gently touching the patient's hands while saying "I will go with you as far as I can to the surgical area. I'll also be there when you go to recovery and come back to your room." The patient feels that a friendly face will be there to support them.
Compassion and Respect
There are times in the nursing practice when there is no good answer in response to a patient's questions. This is when it's important for a nurse to respect the patient, acknowledge that they don't have the answer, and just hold space with the person. It's natural for a nurse to feel as if they have all of the answers to calm a patient down or help them deal with a difficult situation. The compassionate approach is to admit that they don't. An oncology patient may ask the nurse before they go into a chemotherapy session "Will this cure my cancer?" Since there is no "correct" answer for this question, the compassionate nurse responds with "I don't know how your cancer will respond to the chemotherapy treatment. But I will be here with you whatever the outcome."Share