compassionate nurse
Nursing News Updated November 18, 2022

By Moira K. McGhee, Contributor

Importance of Compassion in Nursing

A compassionate nurse is empathetic to the pain and suffering of her patients, which is vital to the patient's well-being. Compassionate care makes patients more comfortable when they're in pain, feeling ill, or suffering from mental or emotional stress.

By demonstrating compassion, you provide your patients with the support and confidence they need to prepare for a lengthy recovery, face a frightening surgical procedure or fight a devastating disease.

Definition of Compassion in Nursing

Defining compassion is difficult with everyone forming their own personal definition of the word, but Merriam-Webster defines it as sympathetic awareness of another's distress combined with a desire to alleviate it.

In the world of nursing, compassionate care isn't simply about relieving suffering but entering into a patient's experience and enabling them to retain their independence and dignity and the recognition, understanding, and emotional resonance with another's concerns, distress, pain, or suffering, coupled with relational action to ameliorate these states.

Importance of Being a Compassionate Nurse

Compassion in nursing takes a nurse from competent care that includes the required skills and knowledge to treat their patients to outwardly caring through actions and deeds that involve the emotional aspects of the relationship. "A nurse's compassionate care can affect a patient's outcome," advises Becca Koplowitz, Nurse Advocate at Murse World, an online company providing men's scrubs.

"The nurse's compassion is an invaluable aspect of care," states Koplowitz, "because it provides patients with emotional support, which can lessen depression and strengthen the patient's will to survive."

    • Being empathetic to better understand what your patients are going through
    • Getting to know your patients to better understand their needs
    • Giving patients someone to talk to, which is especially important for patients who don't have family or friends to lean on
    • Being an active listener when patients discuss their health issues or complaints also helps you pick up on unspoken concerns
    • Solidifying your bond with patients by following up with their health concerns or complaints
    • Providing emotional support during critical times of your patient's treatment and recovery
    • Using a positive voice and body language to imbue confidence in your patients about their eventual recovery
    • Knocking on the door before entering to show patients respect, dignity, and a modicum of privacy where privacy is often limited
    • Taking time to explain tests and procedures and answering your patients' questions, so they feel important
    • Helping relieve your patients’ concerns, so they can concentrate on getting well

Benefits of Compassionate Nursing

Compassion may have a direct effect on the quality of care provided to patients so they normally evaluate the quality of services based on the compassion demonstrated by the nurse.

Providing compassionate nursing care can lead to higher satisfaction in patients, safer care, saving time and cost, a sense of satisfaction and effectiveness in personnel, higher confidence, and coping skills (Dalvandi)

Being a compassionate nurse not only benefits the patient but also benefits the nurse. Nurses more concerned about their patient's well-being and the pain and fear they feel typically enjoy their jobs more and feel more connected to their careers.

Providing emotional support to your patients can also offer tremendous self-gratification but take care to not fall victim to compassion fatigue. When caring for your patients becomes too much of an emotional drain, you could experience a mix of emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms; mental and physical exhaustion; and emotional withdrawal.

Ready to put your compassionate nursing skills to use? Fill out a quick-start application or search open positions on our job search page.


Dalvandi A, Vaisi-Raygani A, Nourozi K, Ebadi A, Rahgozar M. The Importance and Extent of Providing Compassionate Nursing Care from The Viewpoint of Patients Hospitalized in Educational Hospitals in Kermanshah - Iran 2017. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019 Mar 28;7(6):1047-1052. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2019.204. PMID: 30976359; PMCID: PMC6454181.

Lown, B.A., Rosen, J. & Martiila, J. (2011). An agenda for improving compassionate care: a survey shows about half of patients say such care is missing. Health Affairs, 30(9), 1772-1778.


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