Caring is Personal

Caring is personal. I just got this.

I’ve been trying to understand caring for years. I’ve studied caring theories all along, under Jean Watson at the University of Colorado and beyond. But I don’t think I connected with the depth and full implications of the fundamental personal nature of caring, until recently.images-21

No doubt, caring being personal is obvious. I’ve known that there are patterns of knowing in nursing that inform nursing knowledge development, and personal knowing is one of them.

But there is little discussion about this in the practice and leadership literature. So I allowed myself to be distracted by other healthcare trends and challenges.

But the current focus on patient satisfaction that has put nurse caring under the microscope has brought me back to thinking about the development of caring.

How can nurses who have a strong desire to connect with their patients find ways to decompress and create more caring moments, despite their chaotic workload?

What’s missing?

It’s the acknowledgement that caring is personal and that personal knowledge requires development.

And here’s the twist.

UnknownPersonal knowledge, required in caring, can only be developed by the individual nurse.

And that’s why this Pandora’s Box has not been opened.

This is where nursing leaders have not gone   “… where no man has gone before.”

Clearly, there are numerous programs that have propelled nursing organization development: Shared Governance, Relationship-Based Care, Transforming Care at the Bedside, The Center for Nursing Excellence, Magnet Recognition, etc.

And admittedly the pursuit of personal knowledge has not been the purpose of these programs, and this does not side step the significant contributions of the programs.

However, there is an underlying assumption inherent with these programs, which is empowered caring work environments and cultures bring higher levels of caring. This is true, but only so far. images-19 copy

My point here is that despite organizational caring aptitude, caring always requires personal knowledge.

As nurses and leaders, it’s time to acknowledge the role of personal knowledge in caring and figure out how to help ourselves and others gain personal mastery of all levels of caring in practice, and then bring our personal mastery of caring into organizational cultures.


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