Compassion is the sympathetic concern for the suffering and misfortunes of others. As Nurses, we were drawn to the profession because we were/are compassionate people who want to provide support and assistance to those in a vulnerable situation. Compassion fatigue is a “…state of significant depletion or exhaustion of the nurse’s store of compassion, resulting from repeated activation over time of empathic and sympathetic responses to pain and distress in patients and in loved ones” (Pembroke, 2015).
Nursing work exposes us to difficult situations daily – the ill patient, the concerned friends and family, and the competing demands of multiple patients. I also believe that compassion fatigue occurs in Nursing roles that are not patient-centred. The Nurse Manager is continually bombarded with requests to meet the needs of large and diverse groups of clients (other Nurses) all needing something, all wanting the Managers immediate consideration.
Not all Nurses will develop compassion fatigue but for those that do t can be detrimental to both the individual and those that rely on them.
What are some of the signs of compassion fatigue:
- exhaustion, absence of energy, feeling constantly mentally and physically tired
- apathy, sadness, no longer finding pleasure in activities
- questioning meaning and purpose of life
- substance abuse
If you believe that you may have compassion fatigue then there are a number of self-care strategies that you can investigate from mindfulness to diet and exercise, however, you also need to talk to someone you trust to be able to work with you to develop your plan and support you during this time. If you believe that a friend or colleague may have compassion fatigue then you can seek advice on how best to support them through Nurse and Midwife Support.
Click here>> to see the full article on Compassion Fatigue and find out more about Nurse and Midwife Support