How Good Nursing Leads To Compassion Fatigue

1608 words - 7 pages

The American Nurses Association (2014) defines nursing as, “ The protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.” Nursing is a profession which integrates science, knowledge, and interpersonal skills to provide quality care to individuals, families, and communities. Nurses not only share knowledge but also common attributes. Generally, nurses are nurturing, compassionate, and empathetic. These qualities are needed along with foundational knowledge to provide the best possible care ...view middle of the document...

Compassion fatigue’s symptomology is nearly identical to post traumatic disorder but the origin of the symptoms arises from the trauma suffered by others. Caregivers experiencing compassion fatigue become preoccupied while with their patients due to re-experiencing their trauma. The caregiver can develop difficulty falling asleep, irritability, and short temper and ultimately lead to a reduced capacity or interest in being empathic towards the distress of the patient or others (Abendroth, 2011).
Compassion fatigue is a relatively new and under-researched issue. It is common for nurses to be unaware of any occurring symptoms and believe stress is part of the profession. Joinson (1992) described in her article, “Caregivers sometimes ignore their stress symptoms until they become vertically ill. That is a term we give to people who are functioning but not attuned to their emotional needs” (p.119). Early signs of compassion fatigue include irritability, anger, and isolation which hinder communication between colleagues and patients. The fatigue may progress into lack of empathy for patients, which will affect quality of care and prolong hospital stays and affect patient satisfactory ratings. This is what makes compassion fatigue a pressing issue because caregivers may not be aware of its existence and it affects the person’s work performance, emotional state, and communication, which will ultimately affect healthcare facilities economically.
Compassion fatigue has a quite interesting relationship with professional ethics. Ethics put simply has to do with right and wrong while professional ethics is built around three essential components. First is purpose. All professions are developed in response to a social need. The second component is the conduct expected of the professional and the third component is the skills and outcomes expected in professional practice (Curtin, Mason, Leavitt & Chaffee, 2012,p.81). The code of ethics for nurses defined by American Nurses Association (2014) is, “A guide for carrying out nursing responsibilities in a manner consistent with quality in nursing care and the ethical obligations of the profession.” Essentially compassion fatigue occurs when a care provider cares so much on a daily basis for those suffering, they eventually become tired of caring for others. The caregiver is following the code of ethics but following to a point that they become fatigued. It is almost a lose-lose situation for some nurses because compassion fatigue arises when you are basically doing an aspect of your job excessively. Nonetheless, a caregiver or nurse experiencing compassion fatigue will undergo various ethical dilemmas. Compassion fatigue affects a nurse’s conduct or behavior negatively, which is a component of professional ethics. This hinders communication, affects sleep, which may in turn affect performance and eventually deject feelings of empathy, which is an important component of quality nursing care. A lack of empathy...

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