Importance of Understanding, Compassion and Empathy in Patient Care Essays

Importance of Understanding, Compassion and Empathy in Patient Care Essays

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Lying in a hospital bed feeling, sick, scared and helpless, the only comforting thought is supposed to be knowing that when you need something, a nurse is there to help you. You ring the call bell for assistance in going to the restroom and no one comes. You ring the bell again, and still no one comes. You ring it for the third time and a voice comes over the speaker, "I will be back in a few minutes, I have some things I have to finish up". You need to get out of bed right now, and you can’t do it alone. Now, on top of everything else, you’re feeling alone and frustrated. If someone doesn’t appear soon you will have to deal with embarrassment and shame. On top of being sick, look how many other things a patient may have to go through just because of something as simple as no one coming when the call bell is rung. A nurse’s job is not just medical. A good nurse must be empathetic and aware of the patient’s feelings and needs. Empathy is making sure the patient receives comfort, compassion, sensitivity, solace and understanding, qualities that are essential for any doctor, nurse, or caregiver. For patients, a lack of empathy from a physician or nurse can easily be interpreted as its antonym: hostility (Comor, 1997). Patients are human beings and need to be treated as such. It’s terrible to say, but in our society today, it is much too common to hear horror stories of people in a hospital who are treated more like a number or a diagnosis than a human being.

I chose to discuss the nurse’s role because in reality he or she normally spends the most time with the patient. It isn’t always the nurse who should uphold these standards of empathy. I just recently had an experience with my mother in which it was not the nurse who needed t...

... middle of paper ...

...kly or maybe not even at all. I know time is an important issue in our society and a lot of us don’t have any, but we need to step back and remember that we are all human and need to be treated as such. It may just save someone’s life.


Baier, Sue & Shomaker, Mary Zimmeth (1995). Bed Number Ten. New York: CRC Press.

Chaisson, Jean (1999). Nursing stories journalists fail to cover. Neiman Reports, 53(3), p.55.

Comor, H (1997). A question of care. CMAJ, 156(4), pp.541-544.

Lindergren, Maryclaire & Key, Sandra W. (1999, August). Nursing support inflluences outcomes for Oxytocin patents. Women’s Health Weekly, p4.

Lindergren, Maryclaire & Key, Sandra W. (1999, May). Doula support reduces complications and shortens labor. Women’s Health Weekly, p12.

Gastmans, C. (1999). Care as a moral attitude in nursing. Nursing Ethics, 6(3), pp. 214-223.

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