Compassion Fatigue Essay

1299 words - 5 pages

Title compassion fatigue

According to Taylor (2008) the definition of nurse is from the meaning of the Latin word nutrix, which means “to nourish”. Nursing has a focus of caring for every patient physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. To meet the needs of every patient, nurses must take on many roles, but the main role being care giver (Taylor, 2008, p.14). Caring for another person requires many traits, and the most common is compassion. The definition of compassion is “sympathetic consciousness of another’s distress with a desire to alleviate it” (Merriam-Webster dictionary, 2011). Compassion and the desire to nourish may have been deciding factors that would lead one to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses over the span of their career will have extensive exposure to trauma, pain and unfortunate situations. Workplace stressors such as scheduling and increasing workload along with repeated exposure to the hardships of others predisposes caregivers, especially nurses, to develop a unique type of burn out labeled compassion fatigue (Joinson 1992). Compassion fatigue develops when a nurse unintentionally takes on the misfortune, anxiety, pain and trauma of the patients they care for. It is a negative emotional and physical response to the unfortunate situations that can arise in the profession of care giving. The “detrimental effects can include exhaustion, an inability to focus and a decrease in productivity, as well as unhappiness, self-doubt and loss of passion and enthusiasm” (Lester, 2010, p. 11). Compassion fatigue will develop suddenly versus burnout which develops gradually (Boyle, 2011, p. 9). This abrupt onset of symptoms will hinder the nurse’s ability develop a trusting and therapeutic relationship with the patients under their care. Nurses, in all clinical fields, must be aware of this potential problem and be proactive to prevent compassion fatigue throughout their career. Utilizing parts of the nursing process that is a foundation for patient care, the nurse can assess themselves to recognize symptoms and develop an intervention plan to overcome compassion fatigue. AssessmentProfessional Assessment The nurse must do a professional assessment and develop a sense of self-awareness on an ongoing basis to recognize factors that will contribute to the development of compassion fatigue. The professional assessment will identify signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue that directly affect professional behavior. The assessment should include the work environment, feelings the nurse may have about going to work on a daily basis, absences that are not scheduled and overall satisfaction with nursing as a career choice. The work environment can be a major contributor to the development of compassion fatigue, especially if it is high acuity or a specialty unit, like oncology or intensive care where a large number of patients and their families are in pain or suffering (Sabo, 2011, p. 1). Nursing should be a rewarding career...

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