Empathy: Health Care and Patient

Good communication with the patient is a key concept within health care. The ability to motivate the client and help him overcome his circumstance is essential. To have supportive communication with a patient the nurse needs to be problem orientated, empathetic, have audience awareness, be a good listener and so much more. Good communication is as important before and after the diagnosis as during the treatment. Being empathetic is central to having good communication with a patient. Empathy is to show understanding and compassion towards the patient.

Showing the patient interest and attention is a good start to a healthy and supportive relationship. But what is referred to as good communication, and how does the health worker build the best patient care relationship possible? The book, Communicating in the Health Sciences, discusses how to best communicate with someone. The Author, (Joy Higgs et al. 2008), mentions keywords like trust, body language, audience awareness, interaction, and the importance of being a supportive listener. These concepts are important to being a supportive communicator because they help build a foundation between the nurse and patient.

It is important to start gaining the patient’s trust from the beginning. By gaining the patient’s trust the nurse is better able to have an open line of communication. Showing interest towards the patient by using a clear an understandable voice helps with gaining the patient’s trust. This will make the patient comfortable and more apt to accept the information being given. The patient should feel that they have the nurse’s undivided attention. By making the patient feel as though they are the nurse’s top priority the patient will be more open to tell the nurse their honest opinion on issues.

It is important that the patient has a positive experience when talking to the nurse. It is more likely that the nurse will gather more information that is helpful when it comes to the medical assessment if the patient feels that they have had a positive conversation. If the patient were to have a negative meeting with the nurse, it will be more difficult for the patient to speak openly about their illness. Speaking about personal troubles is not very easy, especially when it is with a stranger. This is why it is essential that there are good communication skills from all the health workers.

Let the patient express his or her expectations, review of the situation, and what affect it has on his or her day. The nurse should be empathetic towards the patient and take into consideration how he or she is feeling. When thinking of empathy it is easy to combine it with sympathy. They are similar but also very different. Author of an article in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, Tania Yegdich, defines sympathy as “feeling sorry for another person, while empathy needed an understanding of the other’s experience and thus required a closer relationship” (2001, p. 84). This tells us that sympathy is an emotional response.

Showing emotion as a result of another person’s feelings is to be sympathetic. For example, if the patient were to feel sad to be sympathetic would be to feel affected in the same way as the patient. To be empathetic means having the ability to understand how someone else is feeling in different situations. The nurse should consider what the patient, with his background and history, is experiencing. For Example, picture two different towers with two different views. One of them is the health worker’s tower with the history and background that he or she has. The other one is the patient’s tower.

Empathy would be visiting the patient’s tower and looking at their view with their background. Then going back to the health worker’s tower and reflecting over what he or she has just seen. Empathy is the expression of understanding and plays a huge role when it comes to work within health care. If the nurse were to see being compassionate as work, the patient will easily understand that there is no warmth or empathy in the room. The patient might then feel uncomfortable like he or she is a bother. It is easy to see how someone is feeling just by looking at someone’s body language or facial expressions.

These are all points that must be thought about when approaching the patient. Empathy will make the patient believe his own coping skills and find his or her inner strength that again is important when improving his health situation or dealing with diseases or illness. Being empathetic is one communication skill that helps to power the patient’s mental health, and his view on his own circumstances. Being Empathetic is not just about gathering information from the patient, but also making the patient feel that he or she is met with respect and understanding.

It is central during conversation that the patient understands the decisions that are being made concerning the treatment. It can be very confusing to the patient if the treatment plan is not clearly explained. Telling the patient step by step, and making sure that he understands and feels comfortable with the plan is important. Communicating realistic expectations will also affect the patient’s view of the treatment. As the nurse gets to understand the client’s situation, if something is hard and painful it is important to see how the client is interpreting the situation and what the client is experiencing as positive.

It is important that the patient tries to come up with a solution, and the nurse should help him and guide him as much as possible. Try to see if the client is able to measure the situation on his own. It is important that the client feels that the nurse is acting emphatic, even if she can’t take away the pain. Just by acting compassionate and showing the health worker understand his barrier and pain is going to make the patient much more content. Good communication between the health worker and the patient is essential.

Making sure the nurse has gained the patient’s trust will help build an open line of communication. This will make the patient feel involved in the treatment and much more relaxed with decisions that are being made. Empathy is key when creating good communication with the patient. Showing empathy towards the patients? situation will make it easier for he or she to express their thoughts and feel as though they’re understood. Empathy should be on every nurse’s top priority. Having the ability to understand how the patient is feeling and be able to comfort them in their hard times is partly what a nurse is all about.

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