A good nurse must be compassionate, conscientious, and competent. Some people might think that that idea is an obvious one because the image of nurses portrayed in the mass media is almost uniformly sympathetic. Lurid stories of hospital nurses who become criminals and harm patients (Tresniowski, Grisby, and Klise 151) emphasize the stereotype of the nurse as a caring professional. Unfortunately, that concept is superficial because it does not capture the complexities that go into the practice of a helping profession. Nurses as much as or more than doctors have a significant impact on the quality and quantity of many people's lives. They are the main point of contact between patient and physician on one hand and between patient and health-care system on the other. The moral responsibility implied in such a position is great indeed, and that is why compassion, conscientiousness, and competence are so important.
Responsibility is, ironically, at the heart of why so many nurses experience burnout great enough to motivate them to leave the profession. Yet the need for nurses' special qualifications persists no matter how many nurses become disenchanted. This research will return to that point, but the qualifications themselves are also important.
Compassion can be considered a fundamental prerequisite for anyone who enters a helping profession, but especially in the case of nurses, whose interaction with patients is literally a matter of life