• clinical nursing;
  • difficult situations;
  • nurse leader;
  • responsibility;
  • suffering;
  • support


To make nurse leaders aware of different kinds of difficult situations in clinical nursing that may cause suffering to nurses and to discuss how nurse leaders can approach and alleviate this suffering.


Difficult situations are a part of clinical nursing. Nurses are repeatedly exposed to situations that may cause them suffering and reduce their ability to serve the patients.


Data collection was based on a sample of semi-structured face-to-face deep interviews with eight nurses who were encouraged to narrate their lived experiences of difficult situations in clinical nursing.


Nurses want to discuss issues connected to nursing and caring science that emerge in clinical nursing with their nurse leaders. Painful memories and thoughts are often related to patients struggling between life and death, the despair of families and friends, and their hovering between hope and hopelessness. The results do not support the notion that nurses would request other kinds of support or debriefing.


The mission of nursing is to serve, console and alleviate human suffering. Nurse leaders carry a responsibility to create such evidence-based caring cultures that support the mission of nursing. Nurse leaders' understanding, sympathetic attitude, ethical value basis, personality and ability to discuss are important aspects for nurses. Through the support from nurse leaders, it seems possible to alleviate the nurse's suffering in clinical nursing. Implications for Nursing Management Nurse leaders' support creates a foundation for the nurses' professional development.