Making The Invisible Visible

Caring language and caring literate words are the tools to make visible that which is invisible — nurse’s authentic connections and caring.

It helped me crack the code of nurses’ caring and my own caring leadership.

My Ah-ha Moment

I was sitting in a DAISY Award review committee at my hospital as the CNO one afternoon when the simple benefit of language hit me.  I was surrounded by enlightened dedicated nurses enthusiastically talking about authentic caring moments and stories exhibited by their peers.  As we reviewed DAISY award submissions, I realized  that if I wanted to generate more authentic connections, then I needed to start talking more about it, rather that passively waiting to hear about authentic caring once a month in this committee.

Nurse Leaders as the Voice of Caring

Nursing leadership nationally and in my own hospitals—to include me—have made it too easy to look right past nurses’ authenticity and passions that are evident when we look for them.  We as leaders have gone too long not acknowledging and accentuating the unique value of nursing—our authentic connections with patients in their most vulnerable moments.

As nurse leaders, our voices can turn the heads of nurses and hospital boards of directors when we speak of nursing and caring.  We are in the unique position to make caring visible, to make it real, to make it something clear enough that all can talk about it, and think further about— its intentionality, its purposefulness and value to all.

The Best Talking Point Tool

The Caring Relationship Continuum —based in nursing research —gives clear definitions that others can grasp easily.  These definitions provide nursing’s standards of caring.  It is one of the most effective tools to use when talking about caring.  It immediately makes caring real, and instantly coverts the invisible into something tangible.   Here’s a quick review:

The model describes 5 Levels of Caring.

  • The first 2 levels are uncaring.
  • The 3rd level of care is passive- “it’s my job”
  • The 4th level of  care is  kind, concerned, reassuring, responsive
  • The 5th level and highest level of caring is biogenic, which is consistent with what nursing experts describe as authentic caring moments and the transpersonal caring relationship.

 … This 5th level is where a patient knows they have been seen, heard, understood 

This 5th level of authentic connection is life-givingand life-receiving, for both the nurse and  patient.

  • It originateswithin the nurse;
  • is sparked by a connection between the nurse and another;
  • is sustained by the nurses’ inner resources (mind health) and caring consciousness; and
  • recommits nurses to nursing in the process.

This is one highly charged energy exchange that reflects meaning and purpose in the nurse’s work.

Life is easier when we have words for what we see and are experiencing.  

Creating times and spaces to be conscious of the good that is going on around and within us triggers more of that goodness.

When the focus is on authenticity and caring, there will be more of it.

Our job is to make visible that which is invisible to others.

Our job is to make caring real.

References for Caring Model:
Halldorsdottir S. Five basic modes of being with another. In Gaut DA, Leininger M, (Eds.), Caring: The Compassionate Healer. New York: National League for Nursing Press;1991.
Watson J. Nursing – The Philosophy and Science of Caring, Revised Ed. Boulder: University Press of Colorado; 2008.

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