Communication, both verbal and non-verbal is the means to expressing empathy in a clinical setting. (Davis 2009) Good communication in a health care setting is fundamental. Motivating patients and assisting them to overcome their illness is critical. Being supportive whilst communicating with patients is also essential. For the health care worker to demonstrate these skills he or she needs to be problem orientated, empathetic, have audience awareness and also be a good listener. Hiemer (2000-2013) Good communication is as important before and after the diagnosis as it is during the treatment. A good way to start a healthy and supportive relationship with patients is to be attentive, show interest and to try and understand the patient. Then the nurse can focus on being understood. For communication between patients and the health care worker to be truly effective the message that is trying to be conveyed has to be interpreted in the way it was intended. Non-verbal communication must also be considered, as communication may be difficult in certain circumstances due to language barriers, physical impairments, cognitive impairments etc. Maintaining good eye contact, being aware of body language and tone of voice. Most importantly the nurse must listen and not interrupt the patient for good communication to occur. Nurses need to remember that the foundation of nursing care is the therapeutic nurse patient relationship, which contributes to the patient’s well-being and health. (Hiemer, A. 2000-2013)
In the health care setting empathy allows nurses and patients to work together. Empathy can be shown in many forms such as joy, sorrow, excitement, misery, fear, pain and confusion just to name a few. Empathy is often defined as “the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes”. In simple terms imagining what another person is thinking and feeling in a certain situation. It is highly unlikely to know exactly what another person is feeling, although it is important for the health care worker to try there best to imagine what the patient is experiencing (ANMC 2010,p.1-11), especially if the nurse has not had similar experiences.
The desire to be understood is innate to human nature. Davis (2009). It’s this desire to be understood that creates an interpersonal connection in the health care setting, and also the beginning of the healing process. Nurses are faced with the difficulties of responding to patient’s biomedical and psychosocial needs on a daily basis. Patients are often scared or frustrated, vulnerable to the uncertainty of their health status and seek answers and reassurance from health care workers. Davis (2009) Empathy plays a crucial role in establishing a healthy patient, health care worker relationship and this is fundamental in all forms of health care. Within the clinical environment empathy involves not only cognitive and affective factors but also behavioral factors to communicate with the patient. The nurse can be aided by actively imagining the patient’s perspective in relation to personal experiences to appreciate the patient’s perspective. Davis (2009)
Another matter to consider is the health care workers therapeutic relationship with patients. Nurses have access to a vast range of a patient’s personal information. Trust is needed for the health care workers to fulfill their duties when considering this. There is an understanding that the nurse will act