In recent years, the focus of nurse education has shifted toward a competency-based model. This shift is reflected in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) new Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education— which outlines the necessary curriculum content and expected competencies for graduates of bachelor’s, master’s, and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs.
To access a series of resources to help you implement the AACN Essentials. Check out our toolkit.
To prove competency in any of AACN’s Essential disciplines, nursing students must demonstrate correct skills. It’s no longer enough to pass written tests on theory and write essays that show understanding. Students today must physically demonstrate mastery of skills to become practice-ready.
Like communication, clinical judgment, and ethics, for example, compassionate care is included in AACN’s list of competencies. There is frequent overlap between many of the concepts included in the Essentials. For example, in order to effectively provide compassionate care, you must be able to effectively communicate. For associated tips on teaching and assessing communication competency, check out our ebook.
Today’s nursing curriculum must go beyond technical and theoretical aspects of patient care to address clinical compassion. Defining compassion might seem difficult, as people hold differing notions of what it entails. Merriam-Webster defines it as sympathetic awareness of another’s distress combined with a desire to alleviate it.
But being a nurse isn’t just about alleviating distress. It’s about putting yourself in your patient’s shoes, making them feel heard and seen, preserving their dignity, helping them to live as independently as possible, effectively communicating your genuine concern and understanding for their suffering, and doing everything you can—at a holistic level—to improve their circumstances. In sum, compassionate care is empathy in action.
Perhaps even more challenging than defining compassionate care is measuring it. Identifying key characteristics of compassionate care makes its assessment a bit easier. Researchers at Edinburgh Napier University’s Leadership in Compassionate Care Programme (LCCP) found that patients and families value nurses who:
And the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare has identified these predictors of compassionate care:
The Schwartz Center also identified “recognizing verbal and non-verbal cues” and “practicing self-reflection and emotion regulation” as part of its Compassionate Collaborative Care framework.
For starters, compassionate care is safer care. Thus, it is vitally important for patient well-being and the improvement of patient outcomes. Specifically, patient and family perceptions of providers’ compassion have been linked to:
Compassionate care produces high patient satisfaction, which saves hospitals time and cost, and boosts the confidence, coping skills, satisfaction, and effectiveness of their staff. Uncompassionate care may result in hospitals and their staff receiving low ratings from patients and families, which can have a negative financial impact. In the U.S., funding for hospitals from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are tied to patient survey results.
Compassionate care is also important because it makes patients more comfortable when they’re experiencing pain or suffering. It gives them the support and confidence needed to recover more quickly and fully, face a scary surgery, or fight a formidable illness. And it can help to de-escalate some of the anxieties inherent in the patient experience.
Also worth noting is the finding that compassionate nurses typically enjoy their jobs more and feel more connected to their careers. Amid an unprecedented nursing shortage, retaining nurse talent is paramount.
The shift toward competency-based learning promoted by the AACN puts experiential learning (the process of learning by doing) at the forefront of nurse education. When students are engaged in hands-on experience and reflection, they are better able to connect theories and knowledge from classroom lectures and textbook study to real-world practice. Key benefits of experiential learning include:
In our post-COVID world, experiential learning is increasingly accomplished and evaluated using video assessment. The proven combination of video + feedback offered by GoReact provides a safe, effective, flexible, and cost-efficient way to help students bridge knowledge and practice.
Using video + feedback, instructors can model and record compassionate care in action. Students can study that video, then demonstrate and record their own skills practice. Then instructors/peers/students themselves can see and evaluate that video, sharing as needed.
To assess students’ competency in compassionate care, instructors might record a video of themselves modeling the following scenario correctly and review it with students to identify specific examples of compassionate care.
Alternatively, instructors might provide students with the scenario text to study in advance, as an example of exhibiting many dimensions of compassionate care, and ask students to role-play and record the scene—exhibiting as many of the desired compassionate care steps as possible—for future observation, debriefing, sharing, feedback, self-reflection, and improvement.
Scene: Imagine you’re a nurse in a busy ER. Inside the exam room, a patient sits on the table and a patient care tech is busy filling supplies. The patient is a 50-year-old female with a bruise on her forehead and a black eye. She is crying. As the nurse, you enter the room. How can you exhibit compassionate care?
Learn more about the value and efficiency of using video observation for this lesson and others.
If you’re interested in learning more about video assessment to develop compassionate care and other Essential competencies among your students, request a GoReact demo today.