Understanding Psychology in Nursing Practice

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Psychology in the Practice of Nursing
Many people, especially of older generations, tend to think of a nurse as only a doctor’s assistant, a waitress, or a butt wiper. However, now nurses are doctor’s colleagues, their eyes and ears, and their primary goal is patient advocacy. But in order to care for someone, nurses must have knowledge of not only procedures, diagnoses, and treatment, but they must also understand what is going on with the patient on mental level, which, without an understanding of psychology, would not be possible.

Medical issues may trigger or aggravate psychological issues, such as depression in patients or family members who are scared of what they are going through. It is important for nurses to be able to spot such conditions, so doctors can be alerted, and interventions can be planned. With knowledge of psychology, nurses are also more prepared to deal with patients who may seem “difficult.” Knowing what to look for, nurses are able to look past that obscure label, and make figure out if patients are just don’t want to take medication or be treated, or if there is some unexpressed emotion, such as fear, anger, or frustration. Once the reason for resistance is determined, the nurse is able to do education and counseling to help the patient work through their emotions or resistance, and hopefully persuade them to following the proposed plan of treatment. Equally important to patient care, is the development of therapeutic relationships.

Nurses who want to integrate more psychology into their practice might choose to work as a psychiatric nurse, which may include taking care of suicidal patients, bipolar patients, or patients with other forms of mental illness. In this field, an understanding of psychology is very important, as well as a solid medical background, since amongst psychiatrists and psychologists, the psychiatric nurse may be the only one with a general medical background. Nurses who want to focus on using even more...
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