Nursing Professional Reflections

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Nursing Professional Reflections

Elham Kowsar
Antelope Valley College

Mrs. Cox
Nursing Science 201

A good nurse needs certain skills in order to operate effectively in a psychiatric setting. Although there are many attributes essential to excellent nursing care, this paper specifically focuses on empathy, self-awareness, and building of trust in the professional relationship between a nurse and her patient. In the mental health setting it is important to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy and sympathy may appear to be interchangeable, but they are not. Both words are derived from the Greek language. Empathy means “in feeling” and is based on, and acceptance of, individual uniqueness. Sympathy means “with feeling” and is largely an affective reaction which involves sharing emotions and merging or losing oneself in another person’s experience. Empathy is intimately linked to closeness, which can prove to be difficult to attain for some nurses. The structure of empathy is described as a feeling, portrayed non-verbally, and includes thoughts and emotions related to understanding patients' situations. Nurses' own attributes and previous personal and professional experiences impact their ability to empathize, while knowledge about people and how they are feeling is important for developing empathy. Empathic feelings are difficult to generate when nurses have no context for a similar experience or when the patient is difficult to get to know or communicate with. Further barriers often include a stressful working environment and lack of time. The most important question to ask is: How does this description of the essential structure of empathy differ from sympathy? Sharing of painful feelings of another person is characteristic of both sympathy and empathy. However, the person using sympathy is feeling sorry…...

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