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How Can Nurses Manage Compassion Fatigue?

A Population Less Discussed: Natural Disasters, PTSD, and Nurses

Although nurses often gain satisfaction through providing compassionate care, they may often experience fatigue. Nurturing this balance is considered an important quality to one’s personal and professional quality of life. Compassion fatigue is often described as the combination between burnout and post-traumatic stress. As nurses often witness unpleasant side effects and symptoms of serious illnesses, injuries, accidents and more, compassion fatigue is a major concern. By understanding the factors that lead up to compassion fatigue and developing tools for managing this, those in the nursing profession are more likely to uphold a high quality of life.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship identified factors that lead to compassion fatigue by obtaining survey responses from 491 direct care registered nurses. Results from the study showed the following factors as influential to burnout and fatigue:

  • Lack of meaningful recognition
  • Nurses with more years of experience
  • Nurses in the “Millennial” generation (ages 21-33 years old)

Thus, individuals who reported receiving higher recognition, higher job satisfaction, who identified as part of the “Baby Boomer” generation (ages 50-65 years old), and nurses with fewer years of experience generally had higher compassion satisfaction rather than fatigue. Why is this? Ultimately, the researchers concluded that meaningful job recognition is crucial for any nurse in this profession, no matter the age or length of experience. In addition, any person who has worked for longer periods of time is more likely to experience burnout than someone who is relatively new to the experience – this is somewhat to be expected.

A 2014 review conducted by researchers from Utah emphasized the importance of building compassion satisfaction, which is described as when an individual feels a sense of connection with their patients and feels a sense of achievement through their work. Nurses can manage compassion fatigue by building some of the factors that correlate to compassion satisfaction – having a more positive outlook, building management support, engaging in shared decision making, and receiving recognition from management. If recognition is not being received, it may be beneficial for someone to speak with their manager about incorporating more of this positive feedback into the workplace.

If you are an employer, consider providing more support and resources for your team. Nurses endure long hours and difficult tasks that can cause both physical and/or emotional strains – additional support may help them maintain their duties while also enjoying the work they do. If you’re currently struggling with mental illness or addiction, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about programs that can be tailored to your needs. You are not alone.

Created by professionals for professionals, our Professionals Treatment Program utilizes industry proven practices for fully restoring professionals back to better health. We serve multiple industries with our specifically catered programs and services, providing life changing car for addiction and co-occurring issues. Call us today to book an appointment: 855-422-4129



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