Some days it’s just too much to care:Dealing with Compassion Fatigue Terry M. Foster, RN, MSN, FAEN, CCRN, CEN Critical-Care Clinical Specialist St. Elizabeth Medical Center Edgewood, Kentucky
What is Compassion? • Simply caring about another human being • Being… • Weak with the weak • Vulnerable with the vulnerable • In grief with the grieving • Caring for those who need caring • Nursing care or nurses caring • Supporting those who need support
Compassion in the Nursing Profession • “I feel so sorry for this family.” • “This patient is so sick.” • Mentally thinking about a patient long after you’ve left them. • Does this patient’s illness or injury impress you??? • Defending the downtrodden
What is Compassion Fatigue? • The emotional, physical, social, and spiritual exhaustion that overtakes a person and causes a pervasive decline in their desire, ability, and energy to feel and care for others.
What is Compassion Fatigue?Other definitions: • A type of burnout • A form of post-traumatic stress disorder • A natural consequence of caring for the sick • Is it the cost of caring? • From helping or wanting to help those who are traumatized or hurting, especially in a difficult work environment
Other Thoughts on Compassion Fatigue • As a nurse, we sometimes want to “act” like we don’t care. • Is it peer pressure? • “Honey, you gotta get use to this.” • Detachment (emotional or physical) • Caring attitude or caring behavior? • All behavior is __________?
Those who developCompassion Fatigue • Healthcare providers – especially nurses • What we do, what we see, what we know • Emergency responders • Case managers • Law enforcement officers • Clergy • Military personnel
Factors that causeCompassion Fatigue • Contact with genuine human suffering • Exposure to horrific illness and trauma • Stressful working conditions
Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue • Misplaced anger (to patients, coworkers, home) • Increased irritability • Substance abuse - food, drugs, alcohol • Blaming “them” (whoever they are) • Chronic tardiness • Depression, hopelessness • Obsessively worrying
Symptoms ofCompassion Fatigue • Diminished sense of personal accomplishment (what use to make you happy, satisfied, enjoying work) • Low self esteem • Exhaustion (physical or emotional) • Frequent headaches, GI complaints • Insomnia, sleep disturbances • Frequent vague illnesses
Dealing with Compassion Fatigue • There isn’t a cure-all • Acknowledge that it is present • Personal impact • Professional impact • Begin to talk about it • Making it safe • Understand that is does affect your care • Change work assignment • Dumping vs. Turfing vs. Trading patients
Dealing with Compassion Fatigue • Critical Incident Stress Management • Debriefing with coworkers • Co-worker or manager support is considered the most helpful strategy • Avoiding working extra shifts • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) • Creating an environment of compassion
Dealing with Compassion Fatigue • Arrange patient follow-up • ICU, transfers, letters, etc. • Scheduled rotation through less acute areas? • “When you speak to a patient that way; do you realize how that sounds?”
Some other thoughts… • Never underestimate a “Thank You.” • It is a fact: Some patients could never have the ability to thank us. • A nurses work is missed when it is not done, and often goes unnoticed when it is done.
Remember… • You can’t change attitudes, but you can change behaviors! • You don’t want to make a nurse feel bad… but the behavior needs to be pointed out. • It’s sad when nurses don’t care.
We support and we care! Thank you for caring!
Thank you,Terry M. Foster, RNSt. Elizabeth Medical Center1 Medical Village DriveEdgewood, KY 41017www.TerryFosterRN.firstname.lastname@example.org