The emotional side of nursing is not just about making a difference in patients' lives. It could also be one of the key reasons why a nurse chooses to pursue such a career.
It’s true that technical skills like changing dressings and giving medications are core duties for a nurse. However, the biggest nursing impact often comes from the social and emotional work that nurses do.
How Caring for Patients Influences Nursing Job Satisfaction
Research shows nurses’ altruism is one of the strongest motivators for choosing their career. Nurses enjoy caring for others, especially those who are vulnerable and most in need. Some tie the value of caring to spirituality and fulfilling a higher purpose. For others, it meets their personal needs for a meaningful career.
Veena Baksh works in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit at North Shore University Hospital in New York and says she likes nursing because it's a profession that never stops giving. “You learn new things every day, and the opportunity for growth is almost unlimited. I feel so good inside when I see improvement in my patients and also when giving emotional support by holding the hands of family members who have just experienced tragedy. Actually, it gives me inner peace that I was able to help somebody.”
A New Hampshire registered nurse, Carolyn Mallon, found satisfaction transforming the lives of her psychiatric patients. She says: “I loved having the opportunity to teach [my patients] that they could learn new ways to cope, that with the right supports in place they could make a plan and start working toward recovery.”
Nursing is Caring
In a survey, over two-thirds of nursing students said caring was the essential nursing characteristic. The participants observed that the nurses who cared most were more competent as a result. The same students highlighted the value of developing connections and trust with patients. The study concluded: “Caring leads to trust, which results in a positive impact for the patient.”
Pioneer of nursing ethics Sister Simone Roach used the 5 C’s of Caring to describe the importance of the emotional duties of a nurse.
The 5 C’s of Caring are:
A 2015 study interviewed nurses about what caring means to them, and found “person-centeredness” (putting the patient at the center of decisions) to be vital. The authors wrote: “The most comprehensive feature of the nurses’ collective understanding of caring was their recognition and acknowledgement of the person behind the patient.”
Giving more attention to the emotional aspect can not only improve nursing job satisfaction, but also help under-served patients’ access health care. By winning their trust and improving their health literacy, nurses can help patients re-engage with the health system and get the care they need.
Emotional Impact Nurses Have on Patients
Many nurses can probably point to times when their caring has had an impact on a patient’s quality of life, and how rewarding it is in turn for the nurse.
A few examples of ways nurses take care of their patients’ emotional needs every day are:
- Allowing patients to process their rollercoaster of emotions – everything from fear to relief, grief, or joy.
- Easing the news of a heartbreaking diagnosis or death of a loved one.
- Empowering a patient to have confidence that they can improve their lifestyle.
- Relieving a patient’s sense of helplessness by being in their “corner.”
- Reducing pain and discomfort with distraction or humorous relief.
Advance Your Career. Improve Your Patient Care.
If the emotional impacts these nurses make are important to your work life too, a M.S. in Nursing (MSN) program could help advance your career and improve your patient care. Learn more about the online, CCNE-accredited MSN at the University of Saint Mary. Call 877-307-4915 to speak with an admissions advisor or request more information.