Caring is Not Just for Patients
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How is it that nursing is considered a profession of caring, yet we have some of the highest rates of lateral violence of any profession? As nurses, we must not only care for our patients, but each other, too.
Caring fosters a healthy working environment causing a continuation of caring acts by each member of the interprofessional team. Using Watson’s Theory of Human Caring as a philosophical framework, the three concepts of compassion, empathy, and self-awareness/self-knowing can be easily encompassed under the grand theory. The middle-range theories that help to operationalize and guide practice as a caring nurse should include: Swanson’s Theory of Caring, the Relationship-Based Care Model, and McDowell-Williams Caring Leadership Model. These middle-range theories are intertwined and share the common concepts of caring and relationship-building.
What is the role of a nurse in creating and fostering a caring environment? First and foremost, nurses have a responsibility to ensure that the patient is the center and focus of our work, and that a caring environment surrounds our patients. As Jennings, Heiner, Loan, Hemman, and Swanson (2005) stated, there is a “clear call to inject caring into all interactions with healthcare consumers and one another” (p. 179). Secondly, I agree with Boykin and Schoenhofer (2001), in that “all persons who directly or indirectly touch the lives of persons being cared for must be supported in knowing self as a caring person” (p. 4). Each member of the interprofessional team, in addition to our patients, should be supported and encouraged through caring and as a caring person. And finally, the caring environment can be created and fostered by practicing empathy, compassion, and by knowing/being aware of self. Using these concepts as a guide, nurses can promote and foster a caring environment throughout the organization.