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What is Compassion Fatigue in Nursing?

What is Compassion Fatigue in Nursing?

Compassion fatigue in nursing occurs when nurses become less sympathetic towards the struggles their patient is enduring, which is all-too-common in healthcare facilities; some studies report between 7.3%, and 40% of respondents suffer from it.

Nurses devote significant effort and time towards providing excellent direct patient care, yet it’s equally essential that nurses consider both sides when trying to grasp compassion fatigue and why it occurs. LPN programs help aspiring nurses and nursing students with this.

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue is defined as extremely emotional and physical exhaustion as well as an impaired capacity to show empathy to patients, making it harder to feel sympathetic towards loved ones or coworkers in the nursing field. Some who experience compassion fatigue find they cannot show these characteristics towards anyone around them – leading them into situations in which compassion fatigue negatively impacts relationships between friends, loved ones, and coworkers.

Why Do Nurses Experience Compassion Fatigue (CF)?

It is easy to recognize the cost that caring nurses and healthcare professionals undergo as they strive to deliver exceptional treatment to all their patients on every shift.

The nurse community regularly experiences a cost of care/compassion exhaustion due to the:

  • Heavy caseloads
  • Stressful environments
  • Patients may abuse or attack you
  • Dwindling resources nurses may go unpaid

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Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

While burnout and compassion fatigue among direct care nurses in a healthcare team may appear similar, their causes differ greatly; compassion fatigue often stems from trauma-inducing feelings associated with helping others, leading them to neglect their own needs in favor of caregiving duties. Understanding the distinctions between burnout and compassion fatigue is vitally important. While compassion fatigue in nursing may strike unexpectedly, burnout often progresses slowly over time. Medical assistant programs help students get a deeper understanding of this.

Burnout in the nursing profession often stems from overwork and too many responsibilities. Burnout could also result from issues related to control, unclear expectations, or dysfunction at work. Compassion fatigue occurs when nurses become so focused on helping others that they neglect their own needs and lifestyle activities that bring fulfillment, harmony, and balance to their life.

Burnout can increase cynicism and leave individuals believing their efforts won’t make an impactful statement about themselves or society at large. Nurses experiencing burnout may become disillusioned with their work and leave nursing entirely.

What Are the Repercussions of Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue has serious detrimental repercussions for both nursing professionals and the patients who they treat, making compassion fatigue an occupational hazard that should be dealt with immediately once suspected or recognized; unfortunately, it will likely impact almost all nurse practitioners to some degree at some point during their nursing practice in the healthcare industry.

Nurses experiencing compassion fatigue often provide lower-quality care to patients in clinical settings which, in some instances, could even prove lethal.

Compassion Fatigue: Recognizing It in Yourself

Nurses need to understand how to identify compassion fatigue both for themselves and among those they work with in order to monitor it appropriately and act upon signs that indicate fatigue within an organization or among individuals that might work together with them. A few indicators include these symptoms of compassion fatigue:

  • Extreme exhaustion that occurs frequently or regularly
  • Anger and irritation levels increasing
  • Diminished self-worth
  • Low levels of job satisfaction
  • Decreased empathy
  • Fear and extreme anxiety
  • Disruption of worldview; dissociation
  • Inability to make informed decisions
  • Work and personal lives become interwoven
  • Anxieties over returning to work increase along with attendance issues or lateness to work and lack thereof
  • On multiple requests to work overtime, the employee refused

Compassion Fatigue: How to Address It?

You should rest easy knowing that compassion fatigue can be treated successfully. The first step should be accepting its existence before starting treatment; now, pinpoint its cause! Compassion fatigue on a daily basis for nursing roles should be recognized by all in order to create an environment supportive of its presence – including realistic workloads, debriefing techniques, sufficient mental-health days, peer support, and collaborative working arrangements in healthcare settings.

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As part of efforts to combat compassion fatigue, it’s essential that nurses make time to care for themselves through regular physical activity, healthy nutrition, and recreational hobbies such as art. Nurses may find it challenging to prioritize themselves because their attention tends to go toward meeting others’ needs first, yet taking some time out for self-care will help combat compassion fatigue and keep a balance within themselves. Night and weekend LPN programs help students to become the best version of themselves to make a bright nursing career as licensed practical nurses.