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The Importance Of Empathy In Nursing

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By Brent McNutt

There is a difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy allows you to feel for the patient in a way that helps you to understand their fear and concern about what they are going through. Sympathy is just feeling sorry for them but not extending you past that point. Empathy in nursing is very crucial because nurses spend a majority of time with their patients and sometimes it’s the only interaction that patients have with another person.

Empathy is communicating to a patient that you feel for them and want to help them through their hospital stay or through their time while dealing with medical issues. You can explain all the procedures to them and even let them know the percentage outcome but if there is no empathy or connection with the patient they feel lost and alone. Labor and delivery nurses can bond with a patient better if they have children of their own. A therapy nurse can also understand a patients will to recover if the nurse has been in their situation.

It is not required that a nurse has empathy in order to enter the nursing field but it does account for a patient’s recovery time. Studies have shown that nurse who connect with their patients have a much greater satisfaction with their jobs, those who are more apt to worry about treating the x-ray instead of the patient do their chosen profession a disservice.


There are feedback sheets and many hospitals want to know how their nurses are performing the unspoken duties of caring for patients. Many people don’t bother to fill out these questionnaires but it’s very important to let hospitals know how they are treating patients. If a nurse does provide care above and beyond a patient should let the nurse know, a quick note or a gift is always appreciated and nurses who receive these types of accolades are more apt to know that they are needed in their job.

A nurse who doesn’t care about the patient and only thinks that the patient is there because of something they did can hinder the recovery time. Nurses should have the bedside manner that they give their own children. Some of the problem lies with hospitals that overwork nurses and make the nurse to patient ratio too far out of reach.

With empathy comes equality, nurses who bond with their patients and help them through painful decisions give the patient a reason to get better. Nurses can’t take the place of a patient but they can help the patient feel wanted. Many people who have to stay in a hospital are scared and feel out of touch with their lives. A nurse should make them feel comfortable and help them through anything they are feeling.

Empathy is also non-observed, a patient cannot tell when a nurse is being empathic but they know when they are not, patients who feel at ease with a nurse can allow for certain medical aspects to be understood. Since empathy is a characteristic of nursing it cannot be taught, those who enter this field have a caring nature and nurture complex already in place.

About the Author: Brent McNutt enjoys talking about landau scrubs and landau scrub tops and networking with healthcare professionals online.


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