Ruth Crawford

207 – Managing the emotional labour of nursing: Teachable?

The purpose of this presentation is to initiate and facilitate a discussion around the emotional labour of nursing. Nursing can be an emotional challenge for nurses and many nurses are unprepared to cope with the number of interpersonal issues they are faced with daily. Emotional labour is defined as evoking or shaping, as well as suppressing feelings in oneself. In order to cope with the emotions of others, it is necessary to suppress your own feelings.

A literature review and recent research into nurses’ responses to parents’ emotions in a children’s ward has revealed that emotional labour is problematic for nurses. New graduate nurses are leaving the profession, not because they struggle with time or patient management, but because they are overwhelmed with the emotional labour required in nursing.

Patients’ emotional concerns can be considered burdensome by some nurses, making them feel upset. The burden of sadness and grief and managing emotional demands is difficult. Nurses need to enter the nursing profession with skills and tools to help them with emotional labour management.

Managing emotional labour is teachable, but needs careful planning and skilful facilitation. This presentation highlights this issue as well as providing tangible, practical teaching strategies and resources to provide the emotional support patients and families seek.

Key words: Emotional labour; nursing students; teaching strategies.