Professional nursing is a complex field, which requires a certain level of agility in terms of procedure choice. Each case is unique, and a personalized approach can provide a range of benefits while being challenging for some specialists. A nurse is the cornerstone of an effective healthcare system, enabling quality communication between all its elements. Establishing trust and rapport with a patient is one of the primary duties of a nurse. Accordingly, when a person is afraid or in doubt regarding their treatment, sharing one’s personal experience enables a more profound bond. The process of self-disclosure in nursing consists of enhancing the solely professional, depersonalized nature of communication, and introducing particular personal details. While some nurses may be hesitant about revealing information to their patients, proper self-disclosure execution will yield positive results. The purpose of this essay is to describe the personal experience of self-disclosure in nursing practice.
The sphere of nursing is highly demanding in terms of one’s professional qualities and personal traits. Each patient arrives at a facility in their circumstances, including more than their health condition. There is a long history behind every individual determined by one’s personality, social status, and cultural background. In some cases, a purely professional approach will not suffice to achieve patient-centered nursing quality. Creating a strong bond based on mutual trust may require a deeper level of personal engagement with a patient’s issues (Anthonytheva et al., 2020). In one particular situation, a middle-aged female patient hesitated to speak openly about her health condition. The medical team needed more information regarding this person’s lifestyle, eating habits, and family history to finalizing the treatment plan, suspecting that there was an alcohol addiction involved.
Despite professional advice from doctors, the woman remained secretive about this aspect of her life. Finally, I engaged in a private conversation with this person, which resulted in certain self-disclosure. I did not share any sensitive or compromising information, but several seemingly insignificant details contributed to the patient’s perception of me as a human being. Consequently, she admitted that she was trying to overcome alcoholism, and this information was crucial in the process of medical prescription. Throughout the conversation, I felt a strong positive response from the patient, and she became more cooperative with the rest of the team. I did not regret it, as such a reaction made the experience highly invigorating, and it contributed to my professional motivation to execute a patient-centered approach with others.
However, self-disclosure in any sphere, in particular, healthcare, is to be implemented with caution. Indeed, it presents a range of rewards, establishing trust and understanding between health service providers and their patients. However, the positive outcome is only possible when this method is executed in a delicate, accurate manner. I could not relate to this patient’s alcohol issues, which is why my self-disclosure was limited to rather basic facts sufficient to create a personalized image. This amount of information may not be enough to enable mutual understanding with other people. Moreover, some patients may view continuous self-disclosure as an attempt to simply complain about a professional’s issues, which is inappropriate in a clinical setting. One of my colleagues shared a similar case when his attempts to engage in personal communication with a patient resulted in a harassment complaint filed against the clinic’s management. According to Steuber and Pollard (2018), the degree of self-disclosure must be limited to attain the therapeutic goals while not overshadowing the professionalism of a nurse. Therefore, mastering this instrument is a matter of experience and wit.
In conclusion, self-disclosure in nursing consists of introducing certain elements of personal experience in the process of communication. As personal experience suggests, this approach can bring positive results, prompting patients to speak openly about their concerns. However, unless it is implemented with due accuracy and caution, self-disclosure can create a negative impression. Overall, my perception of it as a highly useful element of patient-centered care has not changed over time, but I acquired a deeper understanding of the appropriate circumstances for its implementation.
Anthonytheva, S., Oudshoorn, A., & Garnett, A. (2020). Professional intimacy in nursing practice: A concept analysis. Nursing Forum: An Independent Voice for Nursing. Web.
Steuber, P., & Pollard, C. (2018). Building a therapeutic relationship: How much is too much self-disclosure? International Journal of Caring Sciences, 11(2), 651−657.