The feeling state of nursing

Mckinnon, John (2015) The feeling state of nursing. In: RCN International Research Conference, April, 2-4 April 2014, University of Glasgow.

The Feeling State of Nursing
Conference Presentation Abstract
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Studies in neuroscience show that effective judgement and decision making require tempered emotion to provide a guiding ‘rudder’ revealing knowing to be a ‘feeling state’(Immordino and Damassio, 2007). Emotional labour as a central feature of nursing practice is well documented (Gray, 2009). Theorists have identified emotions as tools for reflection but this area of knowledge remains underdeveloped (Bradbury- Jones, Hughes, Murphy, Parry and Sutton, 2009).


This paper presents the findings of a study enquiring into emotions commonly experienced in nursing practice together with the causes of these emotions. The study aims to identify the conceptual foundations of a new framework to guide professional judgement.


Thirty- four nurses across community, public health, paediatrics, mental health and acute adult surgery talked exhaustively about the emotions they experienced while immersed in practice and the causes of these emotions. A phenomenological approach was used. The data was collected in a London teaching hospital trust and in three community NHS trusts in the East Midlands of England between November 2011 and August 2012. The interviews were audio- taped and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were analysed using Grounded Theory Method.


Seven emotion- related concepts; satisfaction, frustration, anger, fear, anxiety, sadness and emotional labour had commonality across the sample of participants. Nurses talk of their frustration in being prevented from achieving optimum outcomes by obstructive systems and political and social barriers to effective working. Overall a portrait of a committed caring altruistic workforce in a continual state of heightened awareness and vigilance emerges.


This picture of contemporary nursing practice flies in the face of recent visions of nursing portrayed in the media as uncaring uncommitted and lacking in compassion.


The author draws on recent neural scientific theory and psychology to identify the potential of the seven core emotion related concepts as the components of a framework for professional judgement.


Bradbury- Jones, C., Hughes S.M., Murphy, W., Parry, L. and Sutton, J. (2009) A new way of reflecting in nursing: the Peshkin Approach. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 65(11):2485-2493

Gray ,B. (2009) Emotional Labour, gender and professional stereotypes or emotional and physical contact and personal perspectives on the emotional labour of nursing. Journal of Gender Studies. 19(4): 349-360

Immordino, M.H, and Damasio, A. (2007) We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education. Mind, Brain and Education. 1(1):3-10

Keywords:Emotions; Emotional Labour ; reflection ;Nursing;, bmjconvert
Subjects:B Subjects allied to Medicine > B700 Nursing
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:16934
Deposited On:15 Mar 2015 20:07

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