too much compassion?

  1. Hi! I have a question to post to all nurses. I am a nursing student. I currently work at a doctor's office as a medical secretary. My doc is retiring. I have only worked there for six years and he has been an Interal Medicine doctor for 28. He is personally telling his patients of his retiring when they come in for their appointments. When the patients come out they are very upset (crying). I feel very bad for the people, especially the ones I have become very close to. The other day, I had a patient stop by the office to let us know that she appreciated the many years we have helped her. Her sister just died (She too was a patient). As she was talking, she became visibly choked up which in turn choked me up. When she left, my coworker (which I can't stand--but thats another issue ) said to me "how do you expect to become a nurse if you let your emotions out" I was furious!!! I asked the nurse in our office what she thought and she said, "Nursing is the bridge between science and humanity". Patients don't want a "cold" nurse, they want a compassionate one. So my question is, how does a nurse deal with emotions? I take into account that I come from a town where everyone knows everyone else. But, I just can't be heartless! I not a blubbering idiot, but I feel for people. How do you keep your emotions intact? Thanks for all replies
  2. Visit tammilynn profile page

    About tammilynn

    Joined: Dec '02; Posts: 20
    Registered Nurse, Med/surg
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience in med/surg, CCU, Transitional Care


  3. by   debralynn
    First of all, there is Nothing wrong with being emotional. Please don't ever get so numb that you don't feel. Second, for me personally, when I see someone who has NO quality of life, or has so much sadness in their eyes, I don't feel so sad anymore when they die. For the most part, for these type of patients I am usually asking God what is he waiting for. Its makes me sadder when I see a patient like this, and they are alone, with no family when they finally do die. To me, this is what makes me cry, that this poor creature had to die alone with no one holding their hand, or telling them it is ok to let go.
    You will get tougher as you go, but don't ever get so tough that you don't feel!
  4. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Empathy instead of sympathy.

    The way it's been working for me, i feel bad on the inside for someone, but i don't let them know. There's no way i can completely avoid getting emotional about it. You develop this coping mechanism on your own after awhile.

    As for your co-worker, tell her your emotions are none of her business, and hand her 2 pennies
  5. by   renerian
    There is nothing wrong with showing emotion to your clients. I have cried with and for patients. I know there are times you have to be strong and be sad later for the sake of your family who look to you to help them through a horrible time when someone dies.

    Does that help?

  6. by   tammilynn
    Thanks for all the replies, this does help
  7. by   gwenith
    I have had days when I have bawled my eyes out - particularly at a child's death such as a drowning or meningitis or such. You caon't help it and the family feel better for your sharing thier greif than if you had not. Nursing requires a degree of empathy without it you cannot truly connect with your patients.
  8. by   sbic56
    Definitely you should show emotion to your patients and their families. It helps them grieve to know their horrible situation has an impact on you, too; it validates and supports their feelings during a difficult time when you respond like a compassionate human being. Whatever could be wrong with that?
  9. by   P_RN
    I used to be able to cry.

    When my father died the nursing supervisor sat with us until Mama got there and the supervisor and I cried together.

    I don't cry anymore. I can't.
  10. by   rdhdnrs
    P_RN, why can't you cry anymore? I rarely cry but still there are those times when I am really touched. I hope you are okay and if there is anything we can do, let us know.
  11. by   Jazzi82
    As a nurse, I am considered an old timer. To this day, I hold my patients and their families and many times we cry together. I lost a family member a few years back and when I saw the tears in the eyes of those that cared for her, I knew she had been loved. Never feel it is wrong to let your emotions out. So many times I have heard, "I feel so comforted just knowing how much my family member was loved by all of you." If the day comes that I cannot cry, I will leave the profession, but then I also have to say, we all have different ways we use to cope with the many situations we are placed in on a daily basis. I never put anyone down for how they handle their job unless I see someone who has straw where their heart should be, but that's a whole other post.
  12. by   Tweety
    There are times when we can't be the one's falling apart. Decisions have to be made, phones calls have to be made, post-morden care, giving chemo and treatments, etc. So sometimes I have to keep my emotions "in check" for an appropriate time.

    But as has been said, when you are close to people, there is a time for hugs and tears.

    Make sense?