Patients and their caregivers experience overwhelming anxiety and stress dealing with chronic illnesses and hospitalization. The fear of the unknown creates emotional instability, worsening symptoms, and unrest. Nurses play an integral role in combatting anxiety and helping patients and caregivers cope with stress healthily.
While doctors cure and treat illnesses, nurses spend the most time nurturing patients and attending to their needs. Nursing is a selfless labor of love driven by compassion and empathy, focusing on the patient’s emotional, mental, and physical needs. Nurses never fail to help patients overcome fears by holding their hands and having heart-to-heart conversations.
They ease patients through nerve-racking procedures, helping them overcome emotional challenges and cheering them toward recovery. These cheerleaders wear many hats; they are mindful listeners, grief counselors, medical specialists, and fitness gurus for patients.
Patients diagnosed with chronic illnesses undergoing daunting procedures like chemotherapy need extensive emotional support. Nurses can lighten their burdens by offering a sense of security and encouraging them to discuss their fears.
With that said, let’s discuss some ways nurses can provide emotional support to patients:
1. Developing Clinical Competencies to Combat Illnesses
Devising research-driven treatment plans and pain relief strategies to combat physical symptoms is the most effective way to alleviate emotional discomfort. Patients struggling with severe illnesses, post-surgery complications, or injuries need physical relief. Nurses with advanced clinical competencies can help patients combat anxiety, confusion, and the fear of uncertainty.
Developing advanced clinical skills and specializations can prove increasingly challenging while working a full-time nursing shift. But aspiring BSN professionals can pursue an online masters of science in nursing to specialize in their chosen fields. Specialized clinical expertise allows nurses to participate in patient care and safety processes actively. Given the acute shortages of skilled doctors and physicians, MSN nurses perform many clinical duties previously limited to physicians.
Developing advanced skills with a specialization is the most effective strategy for extending emotional support. MSN nurses are adept at dealing with physical symptoms and the emotional distress linked with bodily discomfort and pain. They can alleviate adverse reactions with timely interventions, advising the team on medications and mental health measures to ensure patient safety.
Nurses with advanced specializations lead patients toward healing and speedy recovery by attending to their emotional and physiological needs. They empower patients by guiding them through complex procedures, using their clinical expertise to help them overcome confusion. Patients will likely heal faster and feel emotionally resilient when they can manage their symptoms and recovery.
2. Preparing Patients for Surgeries and Treatments
People unrelated to the medical field cannot comprehend the anxiety and fear gnawing in the mind of a patient awaiting brain surgery. Likewise, it’s hard to understand how little ones hospitalized with chronic illnesses cope with their distressing surroundings. Even though Grey’s Anatomy would tell us otherwise, there are few happy moments on a hospital bed.
Patients gearing up for deeply intrusive surgeries, painful procedures, and lengthy treatments deal with gripping fear and stress. The uncertainty of the outcome worsens the anxiety, engulfing them in a tumultuous battle for their mental and physical well-being. Nurses help patients and caregivers overcome this fear by preparing them for complicated surgeries and treatments.
Nurses combat fear and stress by eliminating uncertainty – guiding their patients through a step-by-step approach. They empower their patients by providing them with knowledge and awareness, making coping and responding to the changes easier. Nurses are ever-present, holding patients’ hands through painful procedures and calming them after surgeries.
Simply put, nurses are a solid support system that leads patients through fearful procedures, helping them navigate the stress.
3. Adjusting and Managing Expectations
Contrary to popular opinion, no one enjoys spending days, weeks, and months lounging around the hospital. Adjusting to hospitalization can prove increasingly tough, especially for children, adolescents, and seniors. Patients fall into depression because the isolation steers them far from the normalcy of their life.
This loss of normalcy and missing out can prove increasingly disturbing, creating unprecedented stress that derails recovery. Nurses help patients adjust to their new surroundings and manage expectations regarding treatment outcomes. Acclimatizing to prolonged hospitalization is never easy, as patients must adapt to hospital beds, food, noisy environment, and medical fumes.
Nurses ease the process by creating an environment tailored to each patient’s needs and preferences. They create a welcoming environment that makes patients and caregivers feel supported and valued. Nurses work hard to combat depression and isolation by fostering a sense of belonging and engaging patients in multiple stress-busting activities.
Nurses work closely with critical patients, managing their emotional needs and helping them adjust to their prolonged hospitalization.
4. Listening Intently and Without Judgment
Patients diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses that demand extensive and painful treatments often withdraw into a shell. The fear of losing the battle with chronic diseases causes patients to retreat into their minds, isolating themselves with negative thoughts. Recovery becomes questionable when patients lose hope and give up long before the battle begins.
Nurses are powerful cheerleaders, grief counselors, and hand-holders who lead patients out of this dark abyss of depression and hopelessness. They spend hours by their patients’ beds, listening intently to the incessant ramblings without judgment. Acknowledging patients’ feelings and validating their emotional responses are crucial to supporting a speedy recovery.
Interestingly, there’s no one-fits-all solution to extending emotional support, as each patient is unique and demands a personalized strategy. For instance, some patients want supportive listeners, while others seek lively conversations to distract them from the discomfort. Nurses form deep connections with their patients, taking the time to unravel their personalities and understand their emotional needs.
The power of empathy is limitless and transformative, serving as the foundational stone of the patient-healthcare provider relationship. Nurses who provide empathetic care help patients tap into inner strength and combat illness with emotional resilience.
Extending emotional support to patients doesn’t always come naturally, considering the overwhelming occupational stress associated with nurses. These unsung heroes of the healthcare sector rarely receive the emotional support and upliftment they dispense to their patients. It is important to carve out a healthy work-life balance to be emotionally supportive and responsive to patients.
Nurses who are overworked and exhausted cannot provide empathetic care and problem-solving support. A balanced lifestyle, advanced clinical skills, and emotionally responsive care are needed to facilitate healing. Nurses must wear many hats and juggle innumerable responsibilities to help patients navigate negative emotions.