Why Is Empathy Important in Nursing?

In all professions, nursing and caring for others are demanding yet rewarding. Knowing that you’ve saved or improved someone’s life is what makes those long days and difficult hours worth it.

It may seem obvious that someone entering the healthcare field would be highly empathic, but it is rare for clinicians to provide empathetic care in reality. That’s Why is empathy important in nursing.

The lack of life experience of young nurses often makes it difficult to provide an empathy response consistently. In contrast, seasoned nurses usually become numb to it from caring for many patients throughout their careers.

The importance of empathy in nursing cannot be overstated. It is a feeling of understanding and sensitivity to what another person is experiencing from within the emotional frame of reference.

What does empathy mean?

The word “empathy” comes from Ancient Greek, meaning “to feel into.” It is the ability to think as though you are in another person’s shoes and consider their situation from their perspectives, emotions, actions, and reactions.

Why Is Empathy in Nursing Important?

Empathy is a powerful skill in nursing. It’s the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings, which means that nurses must be aware of how difficult their job can be on patients.

But empathy isn’t just about feeling sorry for someone else. It’s also about understanding what they are going through so you can help them feel better.

For example, if someone is experiencing pain, an empathetic nurse might ask, “What does this pain feel like?” or “Is there anything I could do to help make you more comfortable?”.

Nurses are often required to have an abundance of empathy while providing care for patients because they need to understand what their patient is going through and how this can affect their diagnosis.

Patients may experience anxiety or fear when faced with a new doctor or nurse; it’s up to the nurse to empathize and comfort them to feel safe enough during examinations and treatments.

Nurses are skilled professionals that often dedicate their lives to caring for others who cannot care for themselves. They take time out of busy schedules, sometimes risking severe illness, even death, just so someone else can have access to proper medical treatment.

In many cases, nurses contact patients from all walks of life and backgrounds, which creates unique challenges and rewards. The diverse experiences they encounter help them to maintain their empathy and sensitivity.

It is the ability to feel another’s emotions, understand what they are going through (physical or emotional), and caring for others in a way that meets their needs, all without judgment.

Empathy plays an essential role in nursing because it affects how nurses interact with patients and other people on the job, such as physicians or staff members.

Nurses must relate better than anyone else when delivering compassionate care during medical emergencies and otherwise life-altering circumstances.

How Does Empathy Benefit Patients?

According to the research of the National Library of Medicine, empathy enhances patient care and clinical outcomes. Empathy in nursing practice has several benefits, including:

Improved patient outcomes: Empathy can improve the clinical outcomes of patients. Studies have shown that nurses who practice empathy can provide better quality care than those who do not, and this is illustrated in how they handle their clinical responsibilities.

Easier patient understanding: Empathy can help clarify what a hospitalized person is going through, making it easier for them to understand or talk about the experience.

Decreased nursing turnover rates: Nurses often cite empathy as an essential trait in providing quality patient care; studies show that nurses practicing compassion are more likely to stay on the job.

Increased patient satisfaction: Patients report feeling more satisfied with their care when a nurse takes an interest in them and understands what they are going through, leading to decreased anxiety. 

Patient surveys show that empathy is one of the best predictors for being discharged from hospital earlier than planned.

Applications of Empathy in Nursing

Empathy aims to strengthen and mend the connection between health care providers and patients, to build stronger relationships through acknowledging patient emotions and giving them privacy during difficult times.

Empathy also has a positive effect on treatment compliance by increasing self-management skills. 

Patient adherence rates are maximized when health professionals demonstrate compassion in their work, including understanding that patients have different motivations for getting better than theirs. 

In turn, these feelings may motivate people to do what they need to get better and reduce anxiety about seeking medical help in the future.

Empathic nurses have increased job satisfaction, higher levels of professional efficacy, more excellent retention rates among hospital staff (increasing efficiency).

How Can Nurses Practice Empathy?

An empathic nurse can make a difference in a patient’s recovery. The nurse needs to be aware of the feelings and emotions of all kinds of treatments for illnesses, injuries, or chronic conditions.

Nurses also need empathy to work as part of an interprofessional team when dealing with patients with mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety.

Nurses can practice empathy by paying attention to their thoughts and feelings to know how best to respond during difficult conversations with the patient about treatment options or life goals.

It is essential to find out what matters most to the person (such as family members) and then act accordingly on behalf of this individual. Empathy means listening closely enough without interrupting to understand what someone is trying to say and reflecting on your understanding.

Empathy has been proven to be an effective form of communication with patients, even those who might not speak English well or have a different cultural background.”

Nurses need empathy as part of their training since it enhances people’s general health and wellness due to its role as a powerful form of communication.

What Is the Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy?

Most people did not understand the difference between Empathy and Sympathy. Many people think that empathetic and sympathetic are the same, but they’re not.

Empathy is a feeling of understanding or sharing in another person’s emotion. It can be defined as knowing something through one’s personal experience.

Sympathy is an emotional response to someone else suffering from your feelings of pity. At the same time, sympathy refers to sorrowful emotions felt for others who suffer.


Nurses need empathy to effectively and compassionately care for patients. This is why it’s so crucial that nurses practice kindness with their patients. We hope this article has helped make sense of how important empathy is when practicing nursing and why all nurses should strive to develop those skills.

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