Nursing - Compassion Versus Technology

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“In an age where the scientific and the technological are weighed heavily (and often favourably) in human progress, the need to emphasize the humanizing ingredient of compassion . . . is urgent.” (Roach 1987, p.61)

This essay will disagree with the following statement. Science, technology and caring, in all its forms, are all essential to nursing practise; therefore compassion alone is not urgent. Recently Barnard and Sandelowski (2005) explained how “nurses can use both technology and humane care in response to the needs of their clients” (p.112). They go on to say, that when nurses “value and embrace caring practises along with expert knowledge it makes an enormous contribution to the health and wellbeing of their clients”. This paper will state the importance that technology and caring hold within the current health care system. It will further compare the roles of science, technology and caring behaviours and how they must be used together in modern nursing to improve our service and maximise patient outcomes.

Care or caring can be perceived in many different ways. The Collins English Dictionary defines care as “being concerned, to like, be fond of, look after, protect and worry.” When defining caring within the nursing context, it is important that we refer to caring in the ‘professional’ sense, that is, “we are caring for the patient, not with the patient…we empathize not sympathize.” (Horton, 2007). If nurses care with the patient rather than for them, they may run the risk of getting too emotionally involved. In the nursing profession this could lead to a type of stress called burnout, “feelings of emotional exhaustion” (Shirom, 2003), which will negatively impact on the nurses competence. Traditionally, in western society, caring has been based on Christian ideals. “The sick were nurtured physically and spiritually by carers who provided non-judgemental companionship.” (Peacock & Nolan, 2000, p.1069). This view based on Christian...
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