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In a medical profession, is it okay to cry in front of your patients and their families?

I'm hoping to become a neonatal nurse someday. I am not especially emotional, but I know that if a baby didn't make it, I might not be able to contain my emotions. So, my question is, is it okay to show your emotions in front of patients and their families? Is it good to do so, to show the families that you care and understand, or is it bad, because you are supposed to be calm, cool, and collected?
I'd appreciate any answers that you might have!
Thanks in advance. #medicine #nursing #healthcare #mentoring #professional-training


You are welcome and I hope that the information gave you something to think about. Carole Curtis

It did, thank you! Angelina P.

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Carole’s Answer

This is somewhat of a unique question and I am sure everyone has opinions on this so I will give you mine from the little bit of research that I did and my own feelings:
1. there was a pole taken and given by another doctor. This pole was taken because a mother told this doctor that she was comforted by the tears shed by doctor and nurses after the death of her daughter!
2. Out of 528 people who were voting 326 people voted yes and 138 voted that doctors should not cry under any circumstances.
3. The other comments below the poll numbers suggest that the doctors and nurses feel that a quiet tear is acceptable, but no outright sobbing. anything that makes the patient feel uncomfortable is unnecessary and causes more distress.
4. My feeling is that it is ok to feel compassion and shed a tear or two showing compassion and empathy for the family, but never lose control of the situation so that the family feels that they have to comfort you. If you feel that you will lose control in this situation, then they should excuse themselves to another part of the hospital. Empathy and Sympathy are different from each other: the first is a necessary quality and trait for doctors and nurses, but sympathy can be confusing to patients and their families. It has been said that;


"We should empathize with our patients, but I don't think we should suffer with them." Please think about these words when you are practicing in your career and be there for the family when they need your empathy and comfort.


I hope this helps you make to make your decisions on this question. Please remember that doctors, and other medical professionals need to show tact, experience, and training to deal with their feelings because Patients expect solutions and courageous words from them.


I hope these suggestion have helped you with your thoughts concerning such an emotional issue.


Thank you so much for your answer. It was very helpful to me, and I appreciate you taking the time to answer! The pole was very interesting, thank you for sharing that with me. Angelina P.

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Kim’s Answer

Try to imagine the flip side to this question.


I used to get a lot of growths on my hand. They were huge. And gross. But not cancerous. The dermatologist would inject them with medicine to make them go away. One day, I asked him about a growth near my eye, and asked if it was the same as what I had on my hands. He looked and said, " no, it's skin cancer." Just like that. Not, "I'm not sure, I think it's something we need to test just to be on the safe side." And, it turned out, he was wrong. I was right.


Bedside manner is really important. Being human is important. But, like Carole said, you can't break down. It's really hard. Especially for us girls. I honestly don't know how to stay in control. Especially when someone else starts crying. It's almost contagious! When I was a cop, I really looked at it as playing a role. When I put on the uniform, I "went into character." Perhaps the nurse's uniform will do the same for you!


One other thing. I have heard of people biting the inside of their cheek, or their tongue, to regain emotional control. Don't know if it works, but it might be something you can start experimenting with. Not to the point of making it bleed, of course!


Thank you for answering another one of my questions! Your answers are always very helpful to me, and I always appreciate them! That's a good point. I never thought of it that way! I agree, when one person cries, it's hard not to cry, too! But thinking of your job as playing a role is a good idea. It sounds like it helps you to not get too emotional. I've never heard that, thank you for sharing! I will try that out and see how it works. Thank you again! Angelina P.

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George’s Answer

Hi there
I would have to say, if your human, that it is ok to have emotions.
My daughter is a neonatal nurse in TX. She works in the trauma area and just had her first baby a few months ago. It's a difficult job, but normally you don't cry, but there are times that tears are ok, As a patients advocate you do what ever you can for that patients care. Yes some patients do pass or die. Some are so young. The families need to know what is going on and the Nurse is the point of contact in many situations. Compassion and emotions what professionalism is needed.
Sometimes you do need to hold it in, and unwind on the way home. You do have to kind of read the patient/family. I guess you really cannot cry all the time, that would not work out very well.


Thank you for answering, Mr. McCorkell! Your answer was very helpful to me, and I appreciate you taking the time to answer! Thanks again. Angelina P.

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J’s Answer

An instructor gave great advice on the subject: never cry harder than the family!


That is great advice, thank you so much! Angelina P.

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Vicki’s Answer

Good for you for being self-aware! Being a neonatal nurse has emotional ups and downs. Part of your training will be ways to "compartmentalize" your emotions. As you become experienced, if you maintain good self-awareness, you will instinctively know when sharing an emotion will help and when it won't help.


One great way to keep building self-awareness is to find a mindfulness exercise that you can do daily.


Best wishes to you!


Thank you! Your answer was very helpful to me. Angelina P.

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Kathleen’s Answer

I have cried with my patients and laughed with them. They appreciate both


Thank you for answering! I appreciate it. Angelina P.

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Brian’s Answer

Over the years I have had the pleasure to work with many nurses. The one thing that is in common is they are there to support the patient and their family getting through hard times. My best advice is talk to nurses that have been in the profession for a while and ask them how they handle the situation. You will get a number of answers that will help you form an approach that works best for you.


Thank you for your answer, Mr. Birch! That is excellent advice, and I will try to talk to some nurses and ask what they think. Thanks again! Angelina P.

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Manuela’s Answer

Angelina, buy on Amazon second hand the book called "What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear" - Danielle Ofri.
I am reading it. The insights are unbelievable and you will find things to incorporate into your practice as a nurse or share with doctors.


Thank you! I will definitely look into getting that. Thanks again! Angelina P.

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Shilpoo’s Answer

its always good to be human. nothing wrong in sharing sorrow and happiness with people around us. journey from being human to be humane is not that different, we just need to be authentic, compassionate and contextual aware to ensure that we all are being pillar of strength to people , customers, family and friends around us. Be empathetic not sympathetic, and respect and accept everyone the way they are..


Thank you for answering! Your answer was very helpful to me, especially the "be empathetic, not sympathetic" part. Thanks again! Angelina P.

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Chi’s Answer

Many medical professionals are numb to what they see. I would belief some empathy helps the patient and families to know you care. Just don't let that emotion get out of hand and interfere with your judgment and professionalism.


That is good advice, thank you for your help! I appreciate it. Angelina P.

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Sherry’s Answer

I don't think becoming emotional would be a good idea. You want to show emphaty but continue to be professional at the same time. If you become to emotinal your co-workers eill think you can't handle the duties that come along with your position.


That is a good point. Thank you for your answer! Angelina P.

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Lisa’s Answer

Hello,
Nurses and all healthcare providers are human beings just like everyone else. We have emotions and feel things too. I have been a Nurse over 22 years and I have cried many times. I have cried quietly in front of family members, and I have also cried with coworkers behind closed doors, or by myself. The act of crying does not signify weakness, but it should not interfere with you doing your job. If anyone tells you it is not ok to cry, is not being honest with themselves or you. There is a time and place for everything, and I have had to hold back tears in front of the families of patients we could not save. The longer I have practiced, it does get somewhat easier to not cry, but I also deal with my emotions.
Lisa


Thank you for your answer! I agree, there is a time and place for everything, and you need to learn when it is okay to cry and when you should wait till you are alone. Thanks again! Angelina P.

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