Compassion Fatigue

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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... ... middle of paper ... ...nate in their work and genuinely care for their patients, but to do this they must set professional and personal boundaries and be aware of the effect pain; trauma and death may have on their lives. According to Bush (2009), nurses must learn forgiveness and love themselves to prevent and overcome compassion fatigue. “Nurses should treat themselves with the empathy and compassion that they give others” (Bush, 2009, p. 27). Nurses should take time to nurture themselves by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet. They should also continue to participate in activities that they enjoy, get plenty of rest, and have a sense of self-awareness throughout their career. Additional resources are available to any caregiver to educate themselves on compassion fatigue at The Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project’s web site at

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