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10 Nursing Actions to Bring Compassion Back to the Bedside

Even the most benevolent and happy nurse can forget that every patient is someone’s special person. Some days feel like just another ordinary day at work.  Nurses have bad days just like everyone else. The difference is that a nurse’s bad day can darken a patient and family’s already stressful stay.

When nurses begin to lose sight of the how important their role is a patient’s recovery it is important to recharge, refresh and relearn what it takes to make each day special for patients.


Here are 1o ways to bring compassion back to your patient’s bedside:


1. Identify something you like about your patient. This may be difficult with some patients, but everyone has some redeeming quality. Find it.


2. Smile. If you smile your patient will feel welcome and it can change your attitude as well.  Fake it till you make it.


3. Acknowledge and speak to all the people in your patient’s room.  The patient’s family is important and they will appreciate being recognized.  Also they can be recruited to help get ice, hold emesis bags and feed the patient.  The people in the room will be the ones that will be there to support the patient at home when he is tired and needs help. Include the whole family in patient education so that the transition back to home be will be successful.


4. Include the partner or loved ones in conversations with the patient. A patient’s support person needs to understand and give input on the patient’s plan of care. The decisions are the patients to make, but they often look to their partner or loved ones for guidance.

Including the partner in the conversations with patient establishes trust and is an element of family centered care.


5. Take lunch off the unit. This may be impossible at some hospitals.  If at all possible, leave the unit for your break. Go outside and breathe real air. Take a walk in the sunshine and absorb some vitamin D.


6. Use your relaxation skills to relax yourself.  You teach these techniques to patients every day, those same relaxation techniques can benefit stressed nurses!


7. Use your vacation days! Don’t hoard vacation days. People that take less vacation days have less job satisfaction.


8. Join your professional nursing organization. Keeping up to date on new research is exciting and stimulating.  Challenge yourself and continue to grow in your specialty.


9. Go out of your way for your patient at least once a shift. They may not thank you, but you will know that you put in extra effort to make your patient’s stay better.


10. When the family is visiting take a few seconds to look away from the IV pump, computer and thermometer.  Witness how the family comforts and supports each other. Watch as a daughter holds her mother’s hand for the last time. See the happiness when a husband is told he can take his wife home.  These moments are what make us human.


Take the time to make every day special for your patients.

For nurses it is just another day at work, but for each patient it’s a day that can change their life.





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© 2015, Carrie Sue Halsey. All rights reserved.

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