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Nurses and their emotions

Publications > Students' Publications and Abstracts

by Tebogo George

Nurses are capable of self-reflective process and become aware about their emotions. They can demostrate a more judicious manner when they interact with patients and they are more likely to behave and communicate in an appropriate and respectful way. Nurses can easily manage their feelings the moment they realize it. If nurses do not understand their emotions regarding a patient situation, they are less likely to control the expression of these emotions with potentially negative effects on the patient.

Self control against criticism Emotionally intelligent nurses can choose how to respond to different interactive situations without being emotionally overwhelmed by them. This can be an important thing, like if a patient raises a complaint with a nurse. A nurse who cannot control himself or herself against criticism is more likely to take some comments or questions as personal attacks and become less available to listen to and care for that patient.

Self encouragement

Nurses tend to be more constant when facing difficulties and obstacles, more persistent in giving emotional support to patients, thus disseminating their competencies, strength and positive emotions to patients. Such nurses would likely view unfavorable situations in more positive light and would be willing to try new approaches and solutions without fear of failure.

Emotional self control

Nurses face different emotions each and every day. Patients show unhappiness, confusion, anger and sadness. So nurses have to be able to manage their own emotions, so that they can be able to remain calm during unstable conditions. Nurses have to suppress any negative feelings towards patients in order to demostrate a non judgemental manner with patients.

Empathy and understanding other people's emotions

"Nurses who understand the patient's emotions are more empathetic, able to understand the values, fears and worries of the patients"(Henry L,1984). By so doing they can easily connect with patients, understand and satisfy patients need and respond appropriately. Nurses can be more compassionate by behaving more sympathetically.

How do nurses cope with some emotions?

In hospitals and clinics there are clients of different ways of behavior. Sometimes nurses face some situations whereby they will be stimulated to change their behavior. There are situations whereby nurses will be ordered to give patient medication at a certain time, some patient will be refusing to take it due to some reasons like religious believes. Some nurses will come into the extend of being angry. Some nurses will use the defense mechanism called denial. They normally deny whatever is happening by doing as if nothing is happening. They normally control their anger by talking to the patient with low and slowly explaining to them the importance of the medication.

Nurses as health professionals have to show caring and empathy towards the patients.

Most of the times after patients have done surgery and is not successful they lose hope. There fear that they may not get well or they may die, in this situation nurses are the ones who are mostly involved. So they normally provide them with a sense of comfort, giving them hope and show them all the love they need. They show this by advising and directing the patient on how to get well.

Normally nurses in hospices tend to maintain their personal boundaries, and avoid emotional burnout by their work. Nurses put up an emotional barrier to prevent them becoming emotionally attached to the patient (Dennis C,2004). They do so by focusing more on their work than on their clients. They normally label their patients according to their condition or their bed number, for example they may call someone breast cancer because she has breast cancer, or call someone bed 9 because he or she is in bed 9. By doing so the nurse may feel minimal involvement with that particular patient and he or she may not be that emotional which might have been caused by close contact with the patient.

Some patient are unfamiliar and fearful of hospitals. They fear the hospitals due to some horrific stories they could have heard , horrific movies they could have watched and experiences, (Edward. P. S,2002). For an example my sister was having a fear of the dentist but her tooth was to be removed. She did not want to do it because she once watched a horrific movie whereby the dentist was hurting most of the people. This dentist was drilling people's teeth and gum, this people were bleeding, screaming and they ended up dying. She thought that it can also happen to her but she ended up doing it by the help of the nurse. This nurse explained all procedures and treatments to her in order to reduce her fear. She was also given guidance for a week before she went to remove her tooth.


Basically, emotions are socially very important because through it people can work together or bind to each other and they are what makes life worth living, or sometimes ending. So I consider it important for each and everyone to know and understand more about
emotions. For nurses is a must for them to acquire knowledge and more understanding about emotions since they are dealing with people of different characters, who can just arouse their feelings in any other way. Hence by understanding it they may know how to cope with situation they encounter in their working places. Least but not last emotions are like wild horses, so people have to consider it before they take a step forward.

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