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Is Nursing Kind?

Nurses Article   (1,073 Views 9 Replies 864 Words)

jeastridge is a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 103 Articles; 149,142 Profile Views; 424 Posts

How do nurses stay kind in a hard world?

Let's talk about being kind as nurses! What can we do to be kind and stay that way in a world that makes it harder and harder?

Is Nursing Kind?

Kindness never goes out of style. One of the first lessons we learn in life that relates to how we treat others is often what we call The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While this life-theme fits in beautifully in our spiritual lives, how does it apply to being a nurse? Does it? Can it? 

Is nursing getting harder?

We are practicing in a hard time. Nursing is always hard, but for some reason, the last two decades seem to have progressed in ways that make nursing harder. There is a lot of focus on excellence, but not exactly the kind of excellence that leads to kindness. There is a lot of push for efficiency and flexibility, but sometimes we feel our personal lives sacrificed on the altar of corporate interests who often appear to completely disregard the meaning of the word kindness.

The cost-cutting measures, pressures to document and concerns about staffing levels often bear down hard on the persons who work closest to the patients—the nursing staff. Whenever an organization goes through a re-alignment or sells out to another entity, it appears that one of the first measures submitted for scrutiny and possible “chopping” are nursing ratios and pay levels. Sometimes, our more service-oriented profession puts us at the bottom of the power structure and we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of defensiveness, sometimes without adequate representation or voice on the boards that control outcomes. 

Additionally, years of medical malpractice lawsuits have yielded some unwanted results. While the ability to sue is still sacrosanct, the huge payouts over time have resulted in fearful institutions that carefully guard their territory and work hard to become impervious to lawsuits (an impossible feat, it appears…). The practitioners that find themselves in the crosshairs of this controversy are sometimes the nurses who document and document, using electronic medical records that are built as defense mechanisms instead of patient care tools. 

How do we keep being kind?

Where does all this leave us in our pursuit to be kind to our patients and to truly care? How can we be persons and employees who set a good example that leads others to follow?

1.  Stay centered.

While our professional life may keep coming at us full force, it is up to us to practice good physical, mental and emotional self-care, practices that enable us to overcome obstacles and push forward with kindness in the face of the opposite.  By investing time in daily meditation, exercise, prayer, journaling—whatever feeds your spirit—you maintain the integrity of self that promotes kindness even in oppositional environments.

2.  Allow for the benefit of the doubt.

People have bad days. They mess up. They are “hangry” (hungry + angry = trouble). They are grieving. They are going through life crisis. Their pet died. We just don’t know what kind of uncomfortable shoes our neighbors are walking in. Yes, they may just be “high and mighty” and mean folks but then again, what good does it do us to go with that assumption? The training on “Trauma-Informed Healing” encourages us to ask not, “What is wrong with you?” But instead ask, “What happened to you?” We can experience a refill of the blessed gift of kindness when we change our questions and look at others with eyes that allow for grace.

3.  Be kind even when it is unreasonable.

Most of us know that when we are offended, mistreated and stepped on, we want to retaliate. That is human nature. Nurses are human, for sure. We get tired of being at the bottom of the totem pole of consideration. We get tired of being asked to pick up the slack again and again. We get tired of adding thankless jobs to our list, simply because someone higher on the pay grade thinks it is a good idea. We have a choice to make every day: reply with anger or defensiveness or even with the simple truth (which can be harsh sometimes…), or find ways to continue in kindness—all the while seeking true justice.

Being consciously kind!

Social media is awash with quotes about kindness, some of them helpful and others, not so much. But the one that really sticks with me is by Brian Tracy: 

In life you can never be too kind or too fair; everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load. When you go through your day expressing kindness and courtesy to all you meet, you leave behind a feeling of warmth and good cheer, and you help alleviate the burdens everyone is struggling with.

As nurses, we have a daily choice to make. We can succumb to the pull of unkindness and rail against the unfairness of our professional life or we can continue to pursue excellence all the while seeking true justice and improving conditions for ourselves as professionals and for our patients who depend on us. 

How do you work to stay kind?

Joy is a Faith Community Nurse who enjoys writing nursing articles, Bible studies and children's books. She has been a nurse for 35 years in a variety of settings.

5 Followers; 103 Articles; 149,142 Profile Views; 424 Posts

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Snatchedwig has 11 years experience as a ADN, CNA, LPN, RN and specializes in Medsurg.

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Being kind and patient centered is my natural disposition. However when it comes to my patient having an acute change that could compromise life and I need interventions I'm far from nice and I get super aggressive. That is towards anyone and other medical staff. 

 

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Jedrnurse has 25 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in school nurse.

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You lost me when you suggested (I'll pull out the words that struck me) that there be a choice between "reply with...the simple truth...or find ways to continue in kindness..."

 

Yeah, I know you then mentioned "seeking true justice", but all in all, I'm worried that you've listed much of the recipe needed to make...a doormat. 

And I disagree; you can be too kind.

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jeastridge is a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 103 Articles; 424 Posts; 149,142 Profile Views

4 hours ago, Jedrnurse said:

You lost me when you suggested (I'll pull out the words that struck me) that there be a choice between "reply with...the simple truth...or find ways to continue in kindness..."

 

Yeah, I know you then mentioned "seeking true justice", but all in all, I'm worried that you've listed much of the recipe needed to make...a doormat. 

And I disagree; you can be too kind.

Truth. Thanks for your comment.

5 hours ago, Snatchedwig said:

Being kind and patient centered is my natural disposition. However when it comes to my patient having an acute change that could compromise life and I need interventions I'm far from nice and I get super aggressive. That is towards anyone and other medical staff. 

 

Your patients are lucky to have you as their nurse!

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SarahLawson2660 specializes in Home Dialysis Charge Nurse.

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Beautifully stated! As a dialysis nurse, I’ve dealt with my fair share of grumpy patients and some were outright verbally abusive. One thing that’s always helped me keep my kind disposition is putting myself in their shoes. How would I feel if I was tied to a machine at least three days a week for 4 hours at a time to stay alive?! I know that I would be dealing with a handful of emotions and one phase would be anger. So I proceed through my days smiling and displaying kindness to all that I can in hopes to help ease their pain and phases of anger. 

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I think a lot of people advocate kindness but have it confused with niceness. 

Niceness is oftentimes what people want since it involves others' compliance deference, politeness, propriety, etc. Niceness can be a façade and can be manipulative; it is a response based on what is expected.

Kindness is a strong position motivated by genuine regard for others; compassion. I believe it involves self-respect.

There are a lot of articles online comparing the two. One of them mentions the idea that kindness is rooted in love and niceness is rooted in fear. I'm no expert on the matter but that is consistent with how I think of the two qualities.

I think nurses could do well all around to contemplate the difference between the two.

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tinyRN72 has 6 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Cardiovascular Stepdown.

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I think that kindness is very important, especially in the work we do. 

I find that when you start the shift being kind to your patient, they respond with being nice. I hate getting report and hearing that someone is "mean" because I don't want to start out expecting that. I often find that I have no problem with the "mean" patient. 

When I have a difficult patient, I try to remember that they don't want to be there. They are in pain. They feel helpless and they have very little control over what is happening to them. I remind myself that this person did not ask for this.... Even if they smoke, drink excessively or use drugs.... They didn't ask for this. 

It helps me to remember that even if they are rude or less than kind to me, for them this could be the worse day of their life. It's up to me to make it bearable for them. 

From a selfish standpoint, my extension of kindness comes back to me in the form of a nicer patient who is not yelling at me, cursing me or being rude. It's a win win. 

We also need to remember to be kind our co-worker. This also comes back to you ... Better teamwork, support, and a better work environment. 

Just be kind to everyone, anytime you have the opportunity. You can't worry about those who are not nice... But you can choose your behavior and you will be happier for it. 

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jeastridge is a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 103 Articles; 424 Posts; 149,142 Profile Views

1 hour ago, tinyRN72 said:

I think that kindness is very important, especially in the work we do. 

I find that when you start the shift being kind to your patient, they respond with being nice. I hate getting report and hearing that someone is "mean" because I don't want to start out expecting that. I often find that I have no problem with the "mean" patient. 

When I have a difficult patient, I try to remember that they don't want to be there. They are in pain. They feel helpless and they have very little control over what is happening to them. I remind myself that this person did not ask for this.... Even if they smoke, drink excessively or use drugs.... They didn't ask for this. 

It helps me to remember that even if they are rude or less than kind to me, for them this could be the worse day of their life. It's up to me to make it bearable for them. 

From a selfish standpoint, my extension of kindness comes back to me in the form of a nicer patient who is not yelling at me, cursing me or being rude. It's a win win. 

We also need to remember to be kind our co-worker. This also comes back to you ... Better teamwork, support, and a better work environment. 

Just be kind to everyone, anytime you have the opportunity. You can't worry about those who are not nice... But you can choose your behavior and you will be happier for it. 

Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I appreciate what you shared: kindness generally comes right back at you! 

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jeastridge is a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 103 Articles; 424 Posts; 149,142 Profile Views

9 hours ago, JKL33 said:

I think a lot of people advocate kindness but have it confused with niceness. 

Niceness is oftentimes what people want since it involves others' compliance deference, politeness, propriety, etc. Niceness can be a façade and can be manipulative; it is a response based on what is expected.

Kindness is a strong position motivated by genuine regard for others; compassion. I believe it involves self-respect.

There are a lot of articles online comparing the two. One of them mentions the idea that kindness is rooted in love and niceness is rooted in fear. I'm no expert on the matter but that is consistent with how I think of the two qualities.

I think nurses could do well all around to contemplate the difference between the two.

Well said. True kindness sometimes doesn't appear to be "nice" because sometimes what is best for us, our patients and our co-workers doesn't look "nice" superficially. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Joy

9 hours ago, SarahLawson2660 said:

Beautifully stated! As a dialysis nurse, I’ve dealt with my fair share of grumpy patients and some were outright verbally abusive. One thing that’s always helped me keep my kind disposition is putting myself in their shoes. How would I feel if I was tied to a machine at least three days a week for 4 hours at a time to stay alive?! I know that I would be dealing with a handful of emotions and one phase would be anger. So I proceed through my days smiling and displaying kindness to all that I can in hopes to help ease their pain and phases of anger. 

Well said. True empathy and kindness are related, aren't they? Your patients are blessed to have you as their nurse! Joy

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13 hours ago, SarahLawson2660 said:

Beautifully stated! As a dialysis nurse, I’ve dealt with my fair share of grumpy patients and some were outright verbally abusive. One thing that’s always helped me keep my kind disposition is putting myself in their shoes. How would I feel if I was tied to a machine at least three days a week for 4 hours at a time to stay alive?! I know that I would be dealing with a handful of emotions and one phase would be anger. So I proceed through my days smiling and displaying kindness to all that I can in hopes to help ease their pain and phases of anger. 

The affect of the disease process also contributes to mood changes.

I'm sure your kind attitude is appreciated by your patients.

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