QUALITIES OF A PSYCHIATRIC NURSE
Certain attitudes are necessary for a psychiatric nurse to deal with psychiatric patients. These include:
A Psychiatric nurse should have a realistic self-concept and should be able to recognize her own feelings, fantasies and fears. She should analyze her own professional strengths and limitations. Her ability to be aware and to accept her own strengths and limitations should help her see the strengths and limitations in other people.
She should have her own beliefs and values related to life and should be able to acknowledge and accept her own feelings and their influence on her behavior. She should have the ability to recognize when she is under stress and its influence on her physical and mental performance, and also find ways to get adequate release from it. Until the nurse is able to cope with personal fears and anxieties in relation to psychiatric nursing, it is unlikely that she can have a therapeutic influence in the patient’s environment.
The nurse should not only be aware, but also accept her strengths as well her limitations. Self-understanding helps her to be assertive and feeling guilty.
ACCEPTING THE PATIENT
Accepting means, being non-judgmental, Acceptance conveys the feeling of being loved and cared. The nurse should accept the patient as he is, as a sick person, regardless of caste, color, race or behavior.
The ability to talk therapeutically with patients requires an attitude of acceptance, tolerance and genuine interest in the patient. The basis of all helping relationships is acceptance which implies that the nurse treats the patient as an important person and not as a diagnostic entity or a set of psychiatric symptoms.
BEING SINCERELY INTERESTED IN PATIENT CARE
Being sincerely interested in patient care means considering the patients interest.
This can be demonstrated by:
- Studying patient’s behavior pattern
- Allowing him to make his own choices and decisions as far as possible.
- Being aware of his likes and dislikes
- Being honest with him
- Active listening
Being available means the nurse should be approachable to the patient. She should convey to the patient that she is available not only to meet his physical care requirements, but also to assist him in dealing with his psychological needs.
EMPATHIZING WITH THE PATIENT
Empathy is an important tool in understanding other’s feelings. Empathy is a process where a person gets into another person’s situation and experiences what other person feels and then is able to step back and analyze the situation. The nurse need not necessarily have to experience it, but has to be able to imagine the feelings associated with the experience.
To be able to empathize with the patient the nurse must be willing to get involved enough to feel what the other person feels and at the same time avoid over-involvement, projection of her own feelings and over- identification.
The nurse must demonstrate honesty, truthfulness, resourcefulness and competence in her dealings with the patients and their families. She must prove herself to be trustworthy and as a person who can be relied upon in any situation.
Developing the professional skills of a psychiatric nurse is dependent upon learning as much as possible about the patient, his illness and the helping role of the nurse as it specifically applies to the patient.
According to Peplau (1980), the need for personal accountability and professional integrity are greater in psychiatric practice than in any other type of healthcare. Patients in mental health settings are usually more vulnerable and defenseless than patients in other healthcare settings, particularly because their conditions hinder their thinking processes and their relationships with others. Mental health nurses are accountable for the nature of the effort they make on behalf of the patients and answerable to patients for the quality of their efforts.
THE ABILITY TO THINL CRITICALLY
The ability to think critically is crucial for mental health nurses. A critical thinker analyzes information before drawing conclusions about it. It is purposeful, reasonable, reflective thinking that drives problem solving and decision making and aims to make judgments based on evidence.