On episode 38 of The Nurse Keith Show, I discuss the concept of emotional labor and its effects on nurses during the course of their careers. The emotional aspects of nursing are important to address in relation to your career, especially in relation to your health and well-being over time.


On Wikipedia, emotional labor is defined as “a requirement of a job that employees display required emotions toward customers or others“. This occurs for nurses, baristas, home health aides, waiters and waitresses, flight attendants, and others who interact with the members of the public who they’re serving.

Turning off your own emotions so that you can be present for others is hard work in and of itself; how is it impacting you?

  • How do you manage your emotions at work?
  • How do you come to terms with what’s going on for you when you’re face to face with a patient.

Hochschild (1983) said that emotional labor involves “the induction or suppression of feeling to sustain an outward appearance that produces in others a sense of being cared for in a convivial safe place.”

Emotional labour is typified by three characteristics (Smith and Lorentzon, 2007; 2005; Smith, 1992; Hochschild, 1983):

  • Face-to-face or voice contact with the public;
  • It requires workers to produce an emotional state in another person;
  • It allows employers to have a degree of control over workers’ emotional activities, through training and supervision.

Friends, how do you manage the emotional labor of your nursing practice? How can you sustain the emotional labor of nursing in the course of a long career? If you work with the dying, with sick children, or others, how do you manage your emotional life? Do you turn off your emotions at work and then forgot to “turn them on” when you go home?

I’m concerned for your well-being as an emotionally laboring nurse, and I welcome you to take a deep look at your nursing career, your emotional well-being, and how you manage this aspect of being a nurse.

This episode is for you, nurses. Please let me know how this episode sits with you, and how your emotional life is affected by your work.

Thank you for listening, and take good care of yourself, today and every day!

The Nurse Keith Show is adroitly edited and produced by James Larson, and social media and promotion are expertly handled by Mark Capispisan.

Please consider leaving a review of The Nurse Keith Show over on iTunes; this helps more nurses and healthcare professionals find the show and benefit from the information being shared. Just visit iTunes, click on the iTunes store, search for The Nurse Keith Show under podcasts, and leave a review, and voila. Thanks!

Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!


Nurse Keith photoKeith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.

Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews New Service, LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur.


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