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The Importance of Kindness in Nursing

"A little kindness goes a long way" is a popular saying that certainly applies to those in the nursing profession. With patients often feeling scared, vulnerable or intimidated by the uncertainties they face, nurses are able to ease those feelings by displaying true kindness and compassion. Engaging in this manner of care has proven beneficial for both patients and nurses.

How Does Nursing Kindness Impact Patients?

As the most frequent providers of direct patient care, nurses have nearly countless opportunities to interact with patients, build relationships, and influence experiences and outcomes. When nurses establish patient relationships based on kindness and thoughtfulness, as recommended in the Theory of Human Caring model, the potential impact extends beyond just physical care and encompasses the whole patient. Each patient is treated as a unique individual and is supported in their spiritual beliefs as well as their emotional, psychological and cultural needs.

Routinely demonstrating empathy and compassion allows nurses to uncover any potential patient fears that are hindering care. According to the Patient Empathy Project, 96 percent of patients suffer from healthcare-related fears, and one of the top patient fears is having a rude or unhelpful nurse.

Nurses who remain nonjudgmental, supportive and understanding are able to gain the trust of fearful patients and work together to find an appropriate solution. Maintaining a kind and respectful approach results in several possible patient benefits:

  • Improved nurse-patient relationships.
  • Increased compliance with care plan and recommended treatments.
  • Improved patient outcomes.
  • Elevated patient satisfaction scores.

How Does Kindness Affect Nurses?

Patients are not the only ones who benefit from nursing kindness. According to the Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report, 19 percent of nurses say that patient relationships and gratitude as well as personal pride in the level of nursing care provided are some of the most rewarding aspects of the job.

While not all factors influencing job satisfaction are within nurses' control, providing patient-centered care and forming relationships based on kindness and empathy gives nurses the opportunity to directly impact their own happiness and fulfillment. In addition, nurses who express greater job satisfaction also tend to be more productive, motivated and committed to quality care -- elements that further benefit patients and nurses.

How Can Nurses Maintain a Kindness Mentality?

Nursing is a fast-paced and often stressful profession, which makes maintaining a continuous attitude of kindness and positivity challenging.

To stay focused on providing compassionate care, nurses should:

  • Be mindful of the patient's hierarchy of needs, such as individualized care and listening to their concerns.
  • Take the time to introduce themselves as well as other nurses or healthcare providers who will interact with the patient.
  • Address patients by name and make frequent eye contact.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with patients, family members and caregivers.
  • Encourage patients and those around them to ask questions, and take the time to answer them to their satisfaction. If you do not know the answer, be proactive and find someone who does.
  • Always be respectful and courteous, even when faced with unhappy or demanding patients. It could be fear that is prompting their ornery behavior.

Kindness Matters

At some point during the healthcare experience, patients are likely to feel vulnerable, fearful or anxious. Nurses who engage patients with kindness, compassion and individualized care have the ability to calm these feelings while also strengthening nurse-patient relationships and improving outcomes. These positive encounters simultaneously influence nurses' job satisfaction, further promoting a cycle of continued kindness.

Learn more about the University of Texas Permian Basin's RN to BSN Online.


Hippokratia: Healthcare Workers Satisfaction and Patient Satisfaction -- Where Is the Linkage?

Healing Healthcare Systems: Value of Loving Kindness in the Nurse-Patient Relationship

Sweeney Healthcare Enterprises: Patient Experience Conference 2012

Medscape: Nurse Career Satisfaction Report 2016

Nurseslabs: Jean Watson's Theory of Human Caring

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