The #BeKind movement online advocated for more kindness in the world, and especially online. When it comes to nursing, being kind is not only the right thing to do, but it also could make you a better nurse.
This isn’t a discussion about being kind-hearted or empathetic. That comes with the job of being a nurse, and that’s what sets us apart from other professions.
This is a discussion about practicing kindness more frequently throughout each day in order to become better nurses.
What Does Being Kind Mean to You as a Nurse?
It can be as simple as holding open doors for patients, more frequently acknowledging their presence during rounds, or saying “I am sorry” after pulling on a tube too hard or causing pain.
It means that as a nurse, you need to actively remember those who rely on you and those who need your presence by their bedside.
You’ll find that not everyone is kind, and not every patient is kind, but there are patients and family members who ARE kind, and they deserve to be acknowledged and respected during their hospital stay no matter what happens.
Learning Kindness Through Education
When you go through your nursing qualifications you will learn many things. You’ll learn how to approach patients, how to diagnose illness, how to dress wounds, and how being kind and approachable will make your nursing career much easier.
Nurses who take an MSN to DNP qualification will learn that being kind will help them to have relationships with patients that are deeper, more meaningful, and more lasting.
Nurses in higher role positions, such as those roles that DNP or even MSN students will be after, will learn through their studies that patients respond to patients better when they are kinder and gentler with them, and patients require less pain relief and recover faster when they feel like their nurses actually like them.
Being kind is a skill that can be learned, but it’s also a behavior that must be practiced.
What Nurses Can Do to Practice Being Kind on the Job
So, after you’ve learned how to be kind in school, then what?
There are some things that you can do to practice being kind on the job in order to become a better nurse for it.
Patients are in a high-stress situation, just as you are.
Your patients are sick, which means they aren’t thinking clearly. They can feel completely alone. They’re missing out on time with family, they’re worried about their health and they are having to deal with care staff who may not be as pleasant or understanding as they would prefer.
Being kind means that you will approach your patients with empathy, knowing that they’ve had some sort of distressing experience.
Speak Slowly To Patients
People who speak fast are sometimes seen as not very trustworthy; to build trust and be kind to patients you should aim to slow your speech down slightly.
You will be able to say things simply because you’ve taken the time to slow down and learn how to put yourself in their shoes.
Slow your speech down so that you can engage your listener.
Use Simple and Clear Language
Let’s face it, some of the language doctors and nurses use is very confusing, and this can be very difficult for patients.
If the nurses are using complicated or hard-to-understand language, patients can feel like they are being talked down to by doctors, and very often this will make them feel like they aren’t respected.
Treat Patients as if They Have Something Important to Say
Part of practicing kindness for nurses is in treating patients with respect. Give them your attention. Speak to them as if they have something important that needs to be said.
Often patients will know quite a bit about something that is wrong with them, but they may not understand how to explain it. Give them the time and space to explain what’s going on and think of yourself as a teacher: Speak slowly and clearly, and set an example for the patient to follow.
Uphold The Patient’s Right To Autonomy Over their Bodies
At the end of the day, the patient is the person who has the final say over their body. Part of being kind means respecting their right to make decisions about their treatment.
Don’t tell them what they need, let them know what is best for them, and work alongside them in your plan for their care.
Be Willing To Be Wrong
Medicine is often seen as much an art as it is a science, it’s important to say that you are wrong when you are wrong. If a patient has a very different experience to you, if this is your first time treating them, or if you aren’t sure that you have the right diagnosis.
Remember that being kind means listening to your patient and being open to learning from them.
Be Willing To Give Extra Care If Your Patient Needs It
In many cases, patients will be in distress and they’ll want more from their nurses than they might from other people.
This can be a very powerful, powerful thing for both the patient and the nurse who cares for them.
It really shows that you care when you’re willing to give extra care to a patient needs it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind
Pride is a foolish man’s burden as the famous phrase goes, and for nurses to stick to a wrong diagnosis just because of pride is a sign of a lack of compassion.
The only person you should be treating is the patient, not your own ego. That way, you’ll have a whole lot less pain and a lot more patients to care for.
Help Your Patient Through a Difficult Time
One of the most difficult parts about being a nurse is when someone needs help, and they can’t find it on their own.
Be kind enough to help your patient through this difficult time.
When you are kind all of the time, patients will know that you are never out of their corner.
Respect Patient Privacy and Confidentiality
The information that is shared between health professionals and patients must be kept secret. If a patient trusts you, they will share confidential information with you.
In order to maintain this trust, it is important that you respect patient privacy and confidentiality. Although the healthcare industry has its own set of rules for health care professionals, there are also legal regulations that need to be followed as well.
Every time a hospital staff member interacts with a patient, the staff member must know what personal information should be provided to them and how it should be handled.
The use of any kind of a mobile device could have consequences if the information it contains is not properly protected or if it is shared without consent from the patient or their family members.
Practice Active Listening with Patients
Listening to patients is one of the best ways to practice being kind.
Listening to your patients takes patience. It takes attentiveness. It’s important to let your patients know that you want to hear what they have to say and that you are willing to do something about their problem or situation.
When nurses are treating their patients, they should also be listening for any complaints or suggestions which can improve the patient experience.
Nurses should never underestimate the value of listening to what their patients have to say because it can help them save lives in many different ways. One of those ways is by preventing adverse events – which are events that are caused by medical negligence.
Why Do Nurses Need to Learn Kindness?
There are many reasons why being kind matters. The most important reason is that patients also need to feel loved and acknowledged by the nurses who care for them.
For any patient who is in a hospital or living with chronic illness being cared for by a nurse they do not know could be very frustrating. They want their nurse to be kind, supportive, and understanding of their condition.
The patient looks at their nurse as a mediator between them and the outside world – someone that is supposed to be there for them every step of the way.
Why Being Kind Is Important
This does not have to be difficult. Just think back on all the times you’ve been kind to others, whether it was being helpful or making someone feel special.
Be kind, even when you don’t feel like it. Giving yourself a lecture or re-living memories of past kindnesses are great tools for becoming more kind over time. In order to become a better nurse, it is important that you dedicate certain key parts of your day to being someone who is kind to yourself and others.
What If I Missed a Day?
Be a little kinder the next time you have the chance.
If you feel like you have let kindness slip in your day, do something small to make it up to yourself.
It’s never too late to be kind, and the best part is that you know it works – you’ve seen it work for others countless times.