When you choose nursing as a career you understand on an intellectual level that you will be seeing people who are not well and may never get well. The draw is that you doing your job can help innumerable people heal and return to their lives.
Still, it is not easy to handle the emotions of being witness to your patients at their weakest and most vulnerable moments. You get attached. You care. You’re human!
So how can you learn to be both compassionate, yet detached enough to remain focused on your tasks at hand and go home without carrying the burden of what you experienced at work? In many ways, this is a skill that is as important as the work you do with patients and your colleagues.
The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing has an interesting (and very readable) document that focuses on nursing skills and emotional competencies. It calls out emotional intelligence as a core competency for nursing. They are interesting things to read about and keep in mind as you move forward in your career.
Ironically, your job can be less emotionally draining if you develop a more connected relationship with your patients. Why is this? Patients who feel heard and cared about usually complain less, are more active partners in their health and tend to be more forgiving of your many job duties that may prevent you from responding to them immediately.
The American Nursing Association’s NursingWorld online publication has a short article with tips on how to reduce stress on the job. One of them is to get a mentor who can guide you through the process of developing your own way to manage job stress. If your hospital or work place doesn’t have this sort of formal program, simply identify a nurse or nurse manager you respect and approach her or him about being your informal mentor. It is not a burden for them, but a compliment!
What are the causes of your most emotional moments at work and how do you deal with them? Please share them with us and your fellow Nurses Are Cool readers by commenting on this blog. Think of it as an online mentorship!