The 6 Cs of Nursing

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Written by Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN Freelance Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Ann Real, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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In 2012, the 6 Cs of nursing practice were developed following a series of high-profile patient care cases in England where the care provided was notably poor. After these events, a strategy based off a public investigation was created to guide nurses, midwives, and other healthcare staff members in the delivery of high-quality, compassionate care. This strategy included the 6 Cs of nursing.

Like the ethical principles of nursing, the 6 Cs are fundamental to nursing practice. They support nursing professionals as they deliver excellent care, ultimately resulting in improved health outcomes for patients.

The 6 Cs of Nursing

  1. Care
  2. Compassion
  3. Competence
  4. Communication
  5. Courage
  6. Commitment

Together, they help make up the foundation of nursing practice as we know it today. Let’s take a closer look at each C individually.

1. Care

Care is the obvious first among the 6 Cs of nursing — it’s the core principle of the nursing practice. Care is best understood as whatever techniques, therapies, or treatments nurses use to support a patient’s healing.

The concept of care is multifaceted; care includes a variety of interventions, such as helping a patient bathe, monitoring a patient after a surgical procedure, or simply listening and responding to the concerns of the patient and their family. Nurses of all levels connect to patients through the care they provide.

2. Compassion

The concept of compassion stems from the empathy nurses feel toward others. Nurses must understand how a patient feels, but the defining element of compassion is the desire to lessen the patient’s distress. Compassion takes deliberate thought on the part of the nurse, and it should be at the heart of each and every patient interaction.

3. Competence

As you probably already know, nurses must remain up to date on the latest evidence and knowledge surrounding nursing practice. It is very important for each nurse to regularly assess their knowledge base and take steps to improve it. Meeting your state’s continuing education requirements for nurses helps keep you at the top of your game. IntelyEdu can help you find courses and certificate programs that fit into your schedule.

As one of the more practical of the 6 Cs of nursing, competence also means that each nurse should know their scope of practice within the medical system. This helps patient care continue smoothly and can guide nurses when they need to seek out help from other medical professionals.

4. Communication

Obviously, communication is extremely important in the nursing field. A nurse must be able to communicate with other healthcare providers in a timely, competent, and effective manner. Effective therapeutic communication also aids in the development of a positive relationship with the patient. Cultural sensitivity, tone of voice, and appropriate language all help communication be more effective with each person the nurse comes in contact with.

5. Courage

Almost every working day, nurses must confront situations and challenges that may cause tension or fear. These situations may arise from patient care, or they may stem from interactions with other healthcare professionals. Nurses must be courageous, doing what they believe is right and beneficial for the patient in all regards. They must also have the courage to stand by the values and standards of the profession. Looking for inspiration? Check out the story of nursing pioneer Mary Seacole.

6. Commitment

The final of the 6 Cs of nursing is commitment. Nurses must be committed to taking care of patients and providing the highest quality care possible. Commitment to your patient’s needs takes many forms, including a willingness to show up for your shift ready and on time, every time.

Commitment also means upholding the professional code of nursing. Working in the healthcare field can be very challenging, and each nursing professional must develop coping skills to successfully perform in their respective jobs. Commitment is key for guiding patients toward better health.

Practicing the 6 Cs of Nursing

The 6 Cs of nursing can be used to transform the patient care experience. They should be considered in regard to each patient while being tailored to enhance the individual’s treatment plan. The 6 Cs should be used to help patients retain independence while improving their health and wellbeing. Also, they can be beneficial for improving the experience of care for each patient.

For example, competence helps nurses deliver high-quality care and measure the impact of that care on patient outcomes. Communication can help build and strengthen leadership among nurses. Finally, commitment can be applied to help ensure safe staffing levels with nurses who have the right skills for the job. Let’s say a new grad nurse has a question about a particular medication that is being administered to a patient. The nurse asks his preceptor to explain the medication’s purpose and potential side effects. The preceptor shares this information with the new nurse and tells him some of the adverse reactions to be on the lookout for. This is an example of competence, communication, and commitment in action.

The 6 Cs of nursing should be used no matter your level of nursing education or practice area. With everyone practicing these concepts, patient care efforts will continue to improve.

Demonstrate the 6 Cs of Nursing Every Day

Looking to find a way to put your skills and commitment to good use? Learn how IntelyCare can match you with the perfect nursing jobs that provide you with resources to hone your 6 Cs.