1. Monroe, Dameian RN
  2. King, Cheryl RN, CMSRN
  3. Sullivan, Karen BSN, RN, OCN

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Nurse, interrupted

I found "The Other Side of the Stethoscope" (Sharing, October 2015)* very insightful. Too often, we fail to place ourselves in our patients' shoes, focusing on our assignments so we can leave on time; angry or agitated patients can seem like an interruption.

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I once had a patient who required assistance with frequent toileting, which eventually became frustrating to some staff members. It was an exercise in patience, and it would've helped if we'd placed ourselves in her situation. Our patient must have been frustrated herself-reluctant and embarrassed to ask for help.


The key is to remind staff of the importance of empathy. Sharing the burden of challenging patients with colleagues can help, and communicating with the patient can make a huge difference. It takes a village!




Brooklyn, N.Y.


While I applaud the insight shared in "The Other Side of the Stethoscope," I don't think nurses need to experience our healthcare system firsthand in order to practice empathy. I too have been on the other side of the stethoscope and understand the emotions described, but I think empathy can be learned and practiced without personally facing a traumatic event. We all need to make empathy part of our routine and remind others to do the same. If we practice listening to and appreciating each patient, we can improve our patient care regardless of our life experiences.




Plymouth, Mass.


One thing the author didn't address is the role of leadership in creating a culture of compassion. As a nurse leader in a busy oncology unit, I cultivate a positive leadership style that emphasizes compassionate nursing care in order to improve patient outcomes. If nursing leaders model compassion and treat their staff with compassion, it stands to reason that nurses will also treat their patients more compassionately.


I'm convinced that a positive work environment better supports enthusiastic nurses who are engaged in their practice. This change ultimately starts with the transformational nurse leader: Lead by example and motivate your staff to give their best each and every day.




Houston, Tex.




Wong CA. Connecting nursing leadership and patient outcomes: state of the science. J Nurs Manag. 2015;23(3):275-278.


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