Why Caring Is Important in Nursing

September 1, 2020

Message from the Dean

Caring is one of the most important qualities in building trust with others. Being kind is a way people understand caring. As a nurse we need to be attentive to patient needs. Hence providing caring to those that we come into contact with has many benefits. One benefit is improved patient satisfaction. Surveys are completed following treatments at all health facilities that measure patient satisfaction. Questions regarding patient care, such as how well physicians and nurses communicated with patients, how well providers explained treatments and drugs administered to the patients, and the environment (noise level, cleanliness, etc.) are asked. The survey responses provide hospital ratings that are used to increase reimbursement to hospitals.  The amount could be in the millions which is essential in helping to have resources for new equipment. The University of Louisville School of Nursing strives to educate not only the highly competent nurse, but also the nurse who is kind and caring as these actions impact the healing process and patient satisfaction.

A caring hospital or other health care environment provides a space where people can feel safe resulting in less stress. With less stress, there is less release of cortisol, a hormone that causes inflammation and slows the healing process in the body.

I challenge each of us to think about the words we use when working with patients. What we say influences how we feel and how our patient feels. When entering a patient room to introduce yourself, phrases that will start you off to ensuring a positive relationship include:

“This is one of those really good days.”
“I’m looking forward to a good day today.”
“We are going to have a great shift, I can feel it.”
“We have a great team on today.”
“I would be happy to help you out.”
“Night shift did a great job last night.”

Choose your words carefully. For example, I was working on November 25th, on the night shift. I entered a patient room at 7:30 pm and introduced myself. The patient said, “I’m sorry you are here on Thanksgiving, I know you would rather be with your family.”  At that moment I could have said many things…..I chose to tell the patient that I signed up to work that night as I was making time and ½ and the extra money would finance a cruise to Alaska. You could immediately see his entire demeanor change. His approach to his care was positive for the rest of the night. Using words that do not make a patient feel as though they are a burden is critical in the healing process. As a nurse for over 30 years, choosing my words carefully when providing care has served both me and the organizations for which I have worked. Ensuring that the delivery of our care is hospitable is crucial in the current health care system.

When caring is present patients experience feelings of comfort and hospitality, of being at ease and of being healed. Nurses that offer heartfelt acts of kindness evoke caring, an important element of the healing process. Being a Cardinal Nurse means to bring caring to the bedside.

Go Cards!

Sonya Renae Hardin PhD, MBA/MHA, NP-C, FAAN
Dean and Professor
UofL School of Nursing