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Caring Behaviors in Nursing

Kalen Thomas
Dixie State University

Caring Behaviors in Nursing
Becoming a patient in any kind of health care setting is probably one of the most
humbling experiences many people have in their lifetime. Privacy is limited, strict stipulations
are put into place and independence is often revoked. However, having a nurse who
demonstrates caring behaviors can make all the difference during these challenging phases of
life. Care is the essence of nursing and the central, dominant, and unifying focus of nursing
[education]. (Vance, 2003, par. 5) It is more than simply looking after individuals who are
unable to care for themselves. It is all about how the nurse makes the patient feel.
I recently worked with a nurse named Debbie on the Medical/Surgical Unit. We had a
patient that had been refusing activity because he was heavily medicated after surgery. His vital
signs soon began to show signs of atelectasis: tachycardia, tachypnea, fever, and decreased
oxygen saturation. Debbie knew that if we did not intervene the patient would develop
pneumonia. So she entered the patient's room, kneeled down by his bed and explained to the
patient what was happening. She then invited him to get up and use the restroom, walk in the hall
and use the incentive spirometer. The patient began to protest, stating that he was too tired and
weak to complete the tasks. Debbie listened intently, touched his shoulder and said that we
would be there to help him all along the way and began to help him out of bed.
An RN Journal stated that the following are ten of the most important caring behaviors in
nursing: "attentive listening, comforting, honesty, patience, responsibility, providing information
so the patient can make an informed decision, touch, sensitivity, respect, and calling the patient
by name." (Vance, 2003, par. 3) Debbie demonstrated many of these caring behaviors in just one
interaction. She showed responsibility by initiating nursing interventions, called the patient by
name, showed respect by kneeling at his bedside, she provided information so that the patient

could make an educated decision, practiced active listening when the patient explained how he
was feeling, touched the patient appropriately to show that she cared about him , and Debbie
provided comfort to the patient by telling him that we would be there with him all along the way.
These caring behaviors can be learned and are currently taught in nursing schools as part
of the curriculum. When nursing students witness their leaders embracing caring behaviors and
supporting them in their nursing practice, they in turn, feel cared for. (Plante, 2014, p. 210) And
I would add that they then demonstrate those same behaviors toward their patients.
"Patient-centered Care is recognizing the patient as the source of control and a full
partner in providing compassionate and coordinated care based on respect for the patient's
preferences, values, and needs." (Townsend, 2012, p. XXV) Both in my work as a certified nurse
assistant and experience as a student nurse I have seen many nurses provide patient care as
described in Evidence-Based Literature. However, it only takes one nurse to cause a patient to
have a poor hospital experience. Intermountain has received national recognition for the care
they provide and from what I have observed the majority of their nursing staff provide care as
described in their healing commitments.
There behaviors may come more naturally to some people than to others, but with
persistent effort they can be developed. As caring behaviors are strengthened, patient satisfaction
will continue to improve, and nurses will feel greater self fulfillment in their work each shift.


Plante, K., & Asselin, M. E. (2014). Best practices for creating social presence and caring
behaviors online. Nursing education perspectives, 35(4), 219-223. doi:10.5480/13-
1094.1(Plante, sdf, p. 23)
Townsend, M. C. (2012). . In P. J. Maroney (Ed.), Psychiatric mental health nursing (4th edition
ed., p. ). Retrieved from
Vance, T. (2003, March 20, 2003). Caring and the professional practice of nursing. RN Journal.
Retrieved from