Four Nurse-Centered Authentic Caring Fundamentals

As I revise my book, Getting Real About Caring, four fundamentals keep rising up …   I’m sharing them today.  They seem so profound.  Your Thoughts?

I’ll start here … 

I believe that it is our job as leaders to help nurses make sense of forces in their work environment, and to help nurses forge a bridge between those forces and themselves.

I believe that our current emphasis on patient-centered care without equal time on how nurses are to sort through the rapid fire stimuli in their work day shuts nurses down.

I believe there is a chasm between the realities of nurses’ work environments and their ability to tap into their authenticity that nurse leaders must learn to bridge.

I believe that consistent leader led authentic conversations with and among nurses about caring is a leadership practice that can help nurses build deeper connections with patients. I believe that steady input in perspective building around the unique challenges in nurses’ work is what nurses crave.  Perspective building – over problem solving – is a way to make sense of the healthcare complexities in people’s lives nurses experience daily.  Nurse leaders can be that bridge maker. 

The Four Fundamentals:

  1. Accept patients as they are

Patients behave/ respond to life events and situations exactly how they need to behave/ respond. We as nurses see people in crisis, in fear, and at their worst. We cannot know the patient’s whole story; we cannot understand or judge. In the short timeframes we have with patients, we are there to intervene with our clinical skills and caring presence.

Passing judgment of patients is one of the great obstacles in our work environments that stunt authentic caring. Nurse leaders can help nurses uncover and name those judgmental feelings that separate them from patients and build new perspectives.

  2.   It’s most important to know thyself

Understanding what is going on within ourselves is more important than knowing what is going on in our patients. Self-awareness is required to achieve authenticity with others in our work.

“One can only understand in another what is understood in self.”  “Empathy and compassion are dependent on self-awareness.” (Eckroth-Bucher; 2010; p 297)

Nurse leaders role- Self-awareness is a personal journey. Sharing our self-awareness process gives permission to others to seek growth.

 3.   It is nurses’ location in peoples’ vulnerable HC encounters that is unique to nursing 

We are there in times of heightened vulnerability, where patients’ needs open them to deeper caring, after the docs have cleared the room and before the social workers and other therapists step in. The public’s expectations for authenticity and connection land on nurses in these vulnerable healthcare encounters, which align with nursing’s essence – authentic caring.

4.   Our authenticity is what saves us (keeps us in nursing)

Finding meaning in our work is what keeps us in the game. This is what brings joy in our work.

Authentic connections with patients in their vulnerable moments reinforces why we are nurses.  Our authenticity heals us and our patients; it grows our caring consciousness, opens our perspectives and keeps us in nursing.

Self-care helps us know ourselves, which opens us to be authentic with those in need – in their vulnerable moments.

While self-care is nurses’ personal pursuit; Nurse leaders help nurses see the path to authenticity amidst the chaos of daily practice.

Again …

I believe that steady input in perspective building around the unique challenges in nurses’ work is what nurses crave.  Perspective building over problem solving helps nurses make sense of the healthcare complexities in people’s lives nurses experience daily.

Nurse leaders can be that bridge maker. 

image courtesy of Dane Deaner, unsplashed.com

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