We hear a lot about nurses and providers suffering from compassion fatigue. We care, we empathize, and we have compassion for others. The very thing that drew many of us to a healthcare profession is the same thing that threatens to drain us.
“Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.” (Dr. Charles Figley, Paul Henry Kurzweg, Traumatology Institute, Tulane University)
Demonstrating compassion is fundamental in delivering a great patient experience. Having doctors and nurses who show true compassion shapes the experience for both the patient and the family member. That’s why it’s vital that the organizational leaders encourage self-care practices that mitigate compassion fatigue for staff.
At the same time, the staff and providers aren’t the only ones at risk for compassion fatigue. Families whose loved one is experiencing long term illness suffer from compassion fatigue as well. Even if the family members are not delivering direct care, they can be affected by the constant drain of having someone they love in pain.
Know about compassion fatigue, its symptoms and prevention. Engage in self-care practices that will help curb the effects of this very real condition. And don’t forget to keep an eye on family members too-especially those in long term situations. They too can benefit from some self-care.