In her article “Compassion: A Concept Analysis” Maria L. Schantz tries to define the concept of compassion. The author provides numerous definitions of this term taken from different sources and various disciplines. She also tries to compare compassion to other close related terms such as sympathy, empathy or care. However, it is clear that the main aim of the article is to define the concept of compassion within the nursing discipline as Schantz believes that it is important to exercise it in everyday nursing practice.
First of all, in her article Schantz tries to identify the definition of compassion. The author provides the definitions given by various dictionaries and articles. In such articles the word compassion is often equaled to such words as empathy and sympathy. However, according to Schantz, only compassion “empowers people to not only acknowledge, but also act toward alleviating or removing another's suffering or pain” (Schantz 51). Furthermore, Schantz discusses the term of compassion in relation to such disciplines as philosophy or religion. These disciplines compare compassion to a moral virtue. Philosophers suggest that compassion helps people to make professional decisions.
Speaking about the nursing discipline, Schantz claims that in nursing literature this term is not defined. In fact, in this discipline people put more attention to sympathy and care. Mainly these terms are popularized in nursing practice. Schantz understands that compassion is not an easy task and is rare to find. At the same time she emphasizes the fact that it should be included into nursing practice. As Dietze and Orb state, compassion is significant for nursing practice “in this. need to resist indifference or insensitive familiarity with suffering, and be constantly open to the real needs of the patient” (qtd. in Schantz 53).
All in all, the author concludes that first of all it is important to understand the profound meaning of the word compassion. Nurses shouldn't confuse it with close related terms such as sympathy or caring as these definitions are not interchangeable. As soon as nurses understand what the word compassion means, they should try to exercise it in their everyday nursing practice. Of course, Schantz realizes that it is not an easy task, but at the same time it is not an impossible one as well.
Considering Schantz’ article, it becomes clear that it is well developed and well organized. It seems that the author provided a deep analysis of the topic. Thus, she demonstrated a wide usage of various sources that support her ideas. In order to understand the meaning of the word compassion, Schantz used such dictionaries as the Oxford English Dictionary and the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. The author also consulted the works of other writers who tried to give their definitions to the word compassion. Moreover, the author discussed the term compassion from the point of view of other disciplines (philosophy and religion). She also compared it to close related terms. It is all allows to conclude that Schantz has a deep understanding of the word compassion. She has used a relevant content to develop her ideas. The language that she used is clear and understandable to both: people who are preoccupied with nursing practice and general audience.
It should be also noted that the author explores the ambiguity of the term compassion. She claims that many people confuse it with sympathy and care. The author claims that such words as sympathy, empathy and caring may be described as interchangeable. However, “nothing less than compassion can empower nursing to assume major roles in solving or preventing problems afflicting the global community” (Schantz 54). She believes that compassion is totally distinct term that has “its own intrinsic moral and spiritual empowering values” (Schantz 53). That is why it should be viewed as a totally distinct term which differs from such terms as empathy or caring.
It is also worth of note that the author also tried to distinguish between actions that are compassionate from the actions that are not compassionate. She provided a real life experience that showed how differently nurses can behave with their patients. With the help of such example Schantz tries to explain that compassion involves more than just care and attention to the patient. It means that nurses should also try to understand spiritual and emotional state of their patients.
All in all, it is clear that the main aim of Schantz’ article is not only to define the term of compassion within the nursing discipline. The author emphasizes the fact that compassion should be included in nursing practice. According to Schantz, there are two steps to do it. The first step is not to confuse this term with close related ones and to understand its profound meaning. The second step is to exercise it in everyday nursing practice. Of course, the author understands that this task is certainly not an easy one. At the same tame she believes that it is possible to achieve it.
Schantz, Maria L. “Compassion: A Concept Analysis” in Nursing Forum 42.2 (2007): 48-55.