Response to “Compassion Competence in Nurses” by Lee and Seomun in the April-June 2016 issue of Advances in Nursing Science
I have worked as a correctional nurse for the past 21 years, the last 11 years as a cluster nurse manager. Correctional nursing is a unique position within the nursing profession because it combines the demanding environments of corrections and health care. As one of the main providers of health care, nurses' responsibilities include elements of outpatient care, occupational health, community health, emergency nursing, and mental health. Occasionally, correctional nurses voice apprehension about being empathetic or showing to much compassion with offender patients. As leaders, we reinforce professional nurse actions toward patient care. When patients sense they are being understood, they develop a rapport with nurses and are more likely to follow the treatment suggestions and information about healthy lifestyle changes.1
I had the opportunity to read the article, “Compassion Competence in Nurses” by Lee and Seomun2 in the April-June 2016 issue of Advances in Nursing Science. I felt their research in identifying the attributes of the concept of compassion competence for nurses would benefit me, as a leader, to promote continuing education and lifelong learning of compassion for correctional nursing. The statement, “Nurses with compassion competence can correctly assess the needs across varying conditions and cultural backgrounds and make accurate clinical decisions based on integrated professional knowledge,”2(pE57) can be utilized in correctional nursing for improving patient care, as well as the findings that through education, knowledge, and clinical experiences, nurses can develop the sensitivity to recognize the minor changes, responses, and emotional changes of their patients.2 On the basis of these findings and previous literature, the act of compassion can be taught. As a nurse leader, I want to promote correctional nurses as a positive and professional specialty. This will have to be done through more education in compassion competence.
I think that further research into correctional nursing compassion competence would be beneficial due to the challenges of empathy and compassion in a secure environment. Compassion could be misinterpreted, and the nurse could be at risk of being manipulated by the inmate or security could interpret this as establishing a relationship.
—Laura David, BSN, RN
Cluster Nurse Manager
1. Wiseman T. Toward a holistic conceptualization of empathy for nursing practice. Adv Nurs Sci. 2007;2(3):E61–E72.
2. Lee Y, Seomun G. Compassion competence in nurses. Adv Nurs Sci. 2016;39(2):E54–E66.