the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation, as found in the Cambridge Dictionary. An emotion that makes you kinder, more affectionate, and more caring. A feeling that grows when becoming a mother.
Almost all females undergo fundamental changes during pregnancy and after birth, as Scientific American found. ‘Motherhood changes the structure of the female brain, making mothers attentive to their young and better at caring for them.’ Therefore you can say that deep empathy is a privilege restricted to mothers. It benefits the child, obviously, but when the mother is also a nurse, it benefits an enormous amount of people.
We all know a good nurse needs to have good communication skills, flexibility, interpersonal skills, physical endurance and so on. These traits can be innate, but can also be learned. As for empathy, it is often construed as a fixed trait, but empathy expands and contracts along with life events. For example, mothers and people who endure hardships treat others more compassionately.
On the other hand, years of medical training can decrease doctors’ connection to their patients’ suffering. So how about someone in between of those? A mother who has finished some medical training. Well, my guess is that it helps them be empathetic, but still, contain emotional stability.
Mom skills to nursing qualities
You might not realize it, but caring for others is an area in which you already have skills in. Actually, many mom skills can be translated into key nursing qualities. As a mom, ‘you’ve likely mastered things like monitoring fevers and bandaging skinned knees’ even without having to finish nursing school. Then, there’s communication; it is more than just talking – it’s also listening and recognizing non-verbal cues. You do all of these things daily at home (but can make use of them at work, too).
Registered nurse, Trish Ringley, puts it nicely: “Before I had children, I was a caring and thoughtful nurse. But sharing the common understanding of what it means to love someone as only a mother can, means that I can relate much better, I can anticipate what they need much better, and I can offer care at a level of compassion that simply didn’t exist before I was a mother.”
On the other side, having a travel nurse for a mom is full of adventures and experience. Their job may be very demanding and hard to find a work-life balance. But a good perk is that kids always have someone who actually knows how to use the first aid kit. Having a travel nurse mom opens up a world of opportunities.
It might be so bad as to call off work, but this compassion fatigue passes, and nurses are back to being patients’ advocates. Nurses really are the softer side of hospital bureaucracy. Apart from empathy, being sympathetic to the patient’s hospital experience is also very important during this hard time for them. ‘Sometimes, an empathetic nurse is all patients have to look forward to.’
Why it’s worth it
Apart from all the difficulties, there are such heartwarming moments in nursing that make all the struggles worth it. Being part of the process of a patient recovering and being thanked by family members are special benefits of the job. A great nurse is able to manage the stress of emotional situations (with patients and kids) but also gains strength from the wonderful outcomes they see happening every day.
Finally, let’s hear out the experience of how her mom experiences enabled another nurse (and nursing instructor) to empathize deeply with parent patients:
“My experiences as a mom impacted me as a nurse. [When I encountered new parents] I would talk about things to expect that weren’t usually in the curriculum, like sleep deprivation and frustration and impatience. I was able to validate the feelings parents had when their children were ill because of my own experience.” – Joan Edelstein
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