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Compassion is a trait that nurses must learn to exhibit in our care of the patients we attend to. I aspire to treat my patients and their families as though they were my family or how I would want my family treated. Before becoming a nurse I had an experience with healthcare that changed my life. I was in a motor vehicle accident when I was in my twenties. I was injured very severely when a semi truck collided with my car. I was in a hospital in Dallas, that I will not mention, for around 3 months. I found the nurses at that particular hospital to be rude and even mean to me at times. Not one nurse there showed me any compassion. I decided then that I wanted to be a nurse, but I was going to be a great nurse and treat my patients as though I would treat my family, or how I would want to be treated. That experience has shaped my life and transformed me into the caring and compassionate nurse that I am today.

“Compassion is considered among the basic elements of care that relates to human existence. In other words, compassionate care relates to human interactions,
not to specific nursing actions in specific contexts.”(Gustin, Wagner, 2013, p. 175) In my experience as a bedside ICU nurse, I have found that going the extra mile with my patients and their families is a win, win. I have taken care of thousands of patients in my career and I can honestly say that I have never had a negative experience. Knowing what I know from being a patient in the past, I always try to make my patients and their families feel comfortable and safe. I give them all the information that they request, and treat them with dignity and respect in all aspects of my care. I go over and above the call of duty to make my patients smile and even laugh if I can. Laughter can be a great pick me up, all by itself. I try to respect my patients wishes and include the family in their care as much as I can. I will bathe every shift and shave the male patients and shampoo my patients hair if they would like me to. I feel like if a person is clean they can rest better. I enjoy spending time with people and always giving encouraging words. I work nights so that I can spend time with my patients and do patient care, instead of working days and having to compete with PT/OT, dietary, MD’s, and any number of other disciplines that come around during the day. I know that sounds bad, but I enjoy doing patient care and visiting with my patients and their families, without having to answer a million phone calls all day. I treat everyone with compassion and respect. From the CEO to the homeless patient who hasn’t eaten in days. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. I am not a nurse to judge, I am a nurse to help people when they are often times in the worst times o their lives.

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“Compassion has historically been defined as an underpinning principle of work conducted by health professionals, especially nurses. Numerous definitions of compassionate care exist, incorporating a range of elements. Most include a cognitive element: understanding what is important to the other by exploring their perspective; a volitional element: choosing to act to try and alleviate the other’s disquiet; an effective element: actively imagining what the other is going through; an altruistic element: reacting to the other’s needs selflessly; and a moral element: to not show compassion may compound any pain or distress already being experienced by the others.”(Bivins, Tierney, Seers, 2017)

I feel like we lead by example. How we treat people is often times how they treat us back. Therefore, I treat my patients, their family members, co-workers, and all others, the way that I would want my family or myself treated. I have found that if I do this everyday it always come back to me in a positive way. I treat people with respect and I expect to be treated with respect in turn. I find if we don’t hold people to a higher standard you will see them treat people with disrespect. That is unacceptable and I will hold people accountable for the way they treat others, and remind them that it could be their loved one who is being treated with disrespect. Kindness and compassion are free and can make someone feel better, all without having to get a doctors order.


Bivins, R., Tierney, S., Seers, K., (2017) BMJ Journals. Compassionate care: not easy, not free, not only nurses. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Gustin, L., Wagner, L., (2013) Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. The butterfly effect of caring – clinical nursing teachers’ understanding of self-compassion as a source to compassionate care. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2012.01033.x Retrieved from https://eds-b-ebscohost-

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