On episode 220 of The Nurse Keith Show nursing career podcast, Nurse Keith discusses the practice of metaphorically walking in another’s shoes in order to get in touch with your deepest compassionate nurse’s heart, whether it’s compassion for a suffering patient or troubled colleague.

Walking in another's shoes

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.com

As nurses, we’re often in the mode of “doing”. We hang IVs, check vital signs, give treatments, dole out medications, and tend to multiple tasks, whether in the hospital, nursing home, school, patients’ homes, or other venues. And when we’re doing those tasks, we’re generally wearing our metaphoric — and literal — nursing shoes.

In the midst of the tasks to which you need to tend, a patient may voice a complaint, concern, worry or anxiety. Depending on the general trajectory of your day, that patient’s need can either draw you into empathic conversation, or, conversely, it can cause you stress, impatience, and exasperation. When you’re busy and overwhelmed, a patient’s emotional frailty may be the last thing you feel that you can handle.

In those moments of impatience or stress, you’re certainly wearing your nursing shoes (the literal ones and the metaphoric ones), and although those shoes may generally come laced with compassion (pun intended), is your store of compassion always open for business? Are you always able to be as present as you’d like to be?

We always have choices to make in our interactions, and this episode is all about how to overcome our judgments and impatience with others by getting in touch with our deepest empathy, compassion, and humanity. Whether it’s a frightened patient or a colleague going through a divorce, we can choose to imagine ourselves in their shoes and get in touch with what we would want if in their shoes. Treating others as you would like to be treated is an age-old adage that still applies. Can we go there when others need us the most?


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Nurse KeithIn case you didn’t already know, Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, keynote and motivational speaker, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at NurseKeith.com. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife, the therapeutic story coach and writer, Mary Rives, and their remarkably adorable and intelligent cat, George.