Psychology plays a part (whether it be big or small) in every single industry. It has become very important to study the human mind for the better outcome of operations carried out on a daily basis. Nursing and psychology are in some aspects polar opposites, but in the same sense they are interconnected. The main focus in nursing is helping individuals overcome/deal with minor to severe illnesses, while psychologists focus almost entirely on treating the psychological issues of people. That being said, nurses must have a basic understanding of psychology in order to help their patients through a quick and easy recovery.
To help one better comprehend how psychology is used in nursing, one must first discuss a few of the different types of nurses, as well as the tasks they may have to complete on any given day.
Three of the most psychologically involved nursing fields are addiction nurses, critical care nurses, and rehabilitation nurses (Collingwood J. The Relationship between Mental and Physical Health.
). Although the average work day of these three professions consists of quite a few differences, they all must perform some of the same tasks, such as observing patients/recording observations, administering medicine and treatments, teaching patients and families how to manage illness and injuries, and explaining what to do once at home and out of their care (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014-15).
After reading the preceding paragraphs you may be wondering “what is the importance of psychology in those three career fields?” and the answer to this is quite simple. Nurses must take care of patients during severe health conditions and deal with their moods and behaviors. When evaluating a patient’s condition, nurses not only consider the severity of the illness or the level of pain or discomfort, but they also examine the patient’s response. Some patients, for example, remain optimistic no matter how sick they are or how bleak their prognosis. They may also cope well with pain or other symptoms accompanying their illnesses. Other patients, though, may respond by becoming angry or despondent, sometimes withdrawing or lashing out at hospital staff and even their families. They may also have more difficulty handling their symptoms and may report greater pain or discomfort than other patients. Nurses must recognize these mental and emotional issues and include them as part of the patient’s evaluation (Ellie Williams, “How is Nursing Related to Psychology?”).
Nurses must consider the entire patient, both physical and mental health, when creating treatment plans. A patient suffering anxiety over his illness, for example, may refuse to get out of bed, which could cause secondary complications such as respiratory infection or pneumonia. If a nurse suspects a patient won’t participate in his recovery, she’ll need to provide emotional support and encouragement while adapting his treatment plan to his psychological health. For example, she may set short-term goals that are easy for the patient to achieve, such as getting out of bed three times a day or sitting in a chair at least 15 minutes a day (Williams). Psychology can help nurses adapt how they interact with patients based on factors such as age and personality. For example, when caring for pediatric patients, nurses must consider that younger patients may be more frightened than adults and may have more difficulty understanding their situations.Nurses with knowledge of child development or psychology will better understand how to relate to patients in a way that eases their fears and alleviates their confusion. Psychology can improve their relationships with patients, making it more likely that patients will communicate openly with them about their symptoms. Nurses also rely on psychology to encourage patients to trust them, increasing the chances patients will follow the nurse’s instructions and take more active roles in their own care (Williams). As a result of this care, patients start to rely on nurses who try to lessen their mental stress as well as lower the amount of pain they are in. It has been observed in many cases that physical illness can contribute to mental disturbance, at this stage nurses have to be compassionate and understanding. Nurses are trained so that they can support patients emotionally by addressing the mental changes. (Collingwood J. The Relationship between Mental and Physical Health.)
Nurses must also have an understanding of biological psychology so that they can help patients who may have hormonal changes and neurological reactions. The study of psychodynamic psychology done by nurses is used solely to spread optimism among patients. It has been scientifically proven that positive thoughts affect the overall health of a person which results in strong immune system (McLeod, S. A. Psychodynamic Approach).
As you can probably imagine, America isn’t the only country that utilizes psychology in the nursing field. In Germany, for example, every university hospital has a psychiatric clinic in which a professor teaches students how to recognize and treat mental phenomena which deviate from the normal (Psychology and Nursing by Mary Cloud Bean, RN). Bean also states that to be of greatest value in our work we should know the basic principles of mind action and be able to recognize even slight deviation from normal (Psychology and Nursing by Mary Cloud Bean, RN).