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Empathy and Emergency Nursing with Jamie Page

Updated: Apr 22


Episode 8 - The Professional Empathy Podcast (previously Listening at the Orange Door).

Empathy and Emergency Nursing with Jamie Page

Listen on Podomatic or on your favourite podcast platform (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google)

With the world in chaos due to Covid-19, our emergency medical personnel are under more pressure than ever. We're expecting a lot from them. Join Leanne as she speaks with James Page – an emergency department nurse — about the pressures of working in a busy ED and the importance of team and culture in creating a mentally healthy workplace.

The two discussed the importance of prioritising the mental health of our nurses and doctors and the fact that the process of empathy is a two-way street. As much as we expect empathy and respect from our medical professionals, we must also understand and respect the humaneness of those who take care of us when we are vulnerable.


● [00:00 - 01:51] - Introducing our guest, James Page and outlining today's topic, empathy in emergency nursing

● [01:51- 04:36] - Why James got into nursing and why he is the best person today to talk about empathy and mental health in nursing

● [04:36 - 08:33] - James shares his journey in nursing school and what kept him inspired to keep studying nursing

● [08:33 - 10:48] - Why he chose nursing over medicine

● [10:48 - 15:34] - James talks about the sexist constructs that exist in the nursing and medicine sector

● [15:34 - 18:20] - What is he doing at the moment and what are the stresses of being a nurse in the emergency department

● [18:20 - 21:42] - What role does empathy play for patients who you may only see briefly, but your level of empathy will have a huge impact on that patient?

● [21:42 - 23:22] - What's going on within the walls of the emergency department?

● [23:22 - 28:37] - How do you foster a good mental health culture, so negative stress doesn't overwhelm you?

● [28:37 - 33:14] -When you see leaders who have empathy for you, do you find that they tend to be amongst you rather than in an ivory tower?

● [33:14 - 37:06] - As an emergency department nurse, do you have any experience with junior nurses doing more than a certain number of hours or being unable to take breaks?

● [37:06 - 41:30] - What makes people afraid when it comes to mental health discussion?

● [41:30 - 44:56] - Advice for nurses to take better care of themselves so that they can maximize their effectiveness

● [44:56 - 49:59] - How would you like the hospital hierarchy to improve things?

● [46:59 - 53:22] - James’ message for the public


What drew James towards nursing:

What was appealing is that there's no ceiling to the level of knowledge you can possess in healthcare. And there are so many different areas of expertise that you can venture into. James says, "Something that really drew me to healthcare was just it is a constantly evolving industry. And we're constantly redesigning the process."

Societal constructs that go on within the hospital walls:

There's still a stigma attached to men being in the nursing sector. Other than historically, there's no good reason why it should be a female-dominated industry or career. It's perfectly suited to anyone that wants to be involved. And that's the same across the board in many other careers as well. We've sort of historically developed a stigma surrounding gender within roles.

A lot of women doctors get very similar kinds of questions of asking if the patient could see a doctor and not a nurse while they're actually standing there as the doctor. And that does happen quite frequently as well. So, it is funny that these societal constructs go on within the hospital walls. It's really a complicated issue and a tricky one to tackle.

Stresses of being a nurse in the emergency department:

James works in the public emergency department that is renowned for being pretty under pressure in terms of time pressures which is very common. And probably a global issue at the moment is overcrowding in the emergency department.

There're plenty of moments when you're sitting at your desk, and you're trying to decide your next course of action, or you're trying to solve a difficult problem. You've got screaming going on within the department — screaming, shouting, very, very loud that can be extremely stressful.

Empathy in the emergency department:

There's a lot of pressure, for example, in the customer service department where you've got people who are having one of the worst days of their lives. They have a perception of what's going on, and then you've got the staff within that department who are experiencing very different angles of what's happening in reality at the time. So there's a lot in terms of the stresses that go on from a clinician's point of view.

Positive workplace culture:

Positive working culture is one of the most important aspects of every industry. But it is also a complex subject. It's hard to create a positive culture. And it's hard to pinpoint exactly how to implement it. It comes from supportive leadership, relational transparency, and leadership roles.

Take care of yourself to take care of others:

It is common to see people going above and beyond for others and neglecting themselves at the same time, so you can see people getting quite burnt out in that way as well. It is important for them to care for themselves. They must comprehend that the more you are able to care for yourself and be at one with yourself, the better you will be able to take care of others.

James' message to the public:

"Empathy works both ways. And if you're walking into an emergency department, and you're not prepared to give empathy to the people that are looking after you, then I can't imagine that you're going to have a great deal of empathy given back to you."

Generally, people feel like emergency service personnel are usually pretty well respected by the general population, but there's always black sheep. And there are always people that just aren't prepared to look at it from another person's angle.


"Self-compassion, self-understanding, and self-care comes in hand in hand and when you realize that the more honest, compassionate, and open you are with yourself, the better you will be able to offer care to your patients."

"Stress can be a very, very good thing because you're running on adrenaline. You've got things to do. And with the right team, it can be quite fun."


Hi! I'm Leanne Butterworth, Empathy Speaker and Educator, University Lecturer and Mental Health Advocate.

Empathy First is a Brisbane-based social enterprise offering Empathy workshops, online courses and individual Empathy coaching to help you build connection and strengthen your relationships for personal and professional success.

Contact me today and let's talk about how you can put Empathy First.

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