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Keywords:

  • caring;
  • detachment;
  • emotional labor;
  • engagement;
  • satisfaction

Emotional labor and nursing: an under-appreciated aspect of caring work

This paper describes one component of the findings of a larger research study entitled ‘Nurses’ social construction of self: Implications for work with abused women’. One of the most consistent themes arising from that study involved nurses’ views regarding the relevance of emotional engagement/detachment in pursuit of excellence in their practice. In this article this theme is examined in the light of work on emotional labor and the emotional work of nursing. Nurses’ high degree of satisfaction in the emotional rewards of their work with clients is described and contrasted with their dissatisfaction in relation to nursing education and their views of the lack of valuing of nurses’ work by others within the healthcare system. The importance of supporting them in relation to the emotional aspects of their work is explored.