Exemplary Nurses Avoid Compassion Fatigue Beth Perry RN, PhD Athabasca University
Definition of Compassion FatigueA heavy heart, a debilitating weariness brought about by repetitive, empathetic responses to pain and suffering in others (LaRowe, 2005, p. 21).
Purpose of the StudyTo explore what within the lived experience of exemplary nurses facilitates the avoidance of compassion fatigue?
Sample 7 exemplary nurses (RNs)Data semi-structured conversationsAnalysis thematic analysis using three points of reference
Theme 1- Moments of ConnectionConnecting with a patient through something is my greatest reward (Julie). It keeps me functioning effectively when I remember that we are all essentially the same (Sophie).
I Care For YouI care for you.I ease your pain.I bathe your skin.I make your bed.I meet your needs.
You heal me.I care for you.I feed you meals.I give you rest.I tend your wounds.I sense your suffering.I answer yourquestions.
You teach me.
Theme 2 Making Moments MatterI dont have to look far every day to see my purpose in life. It is right in front of me (Maureen).What other professional daily confronts the real essence of living relating to another person (Jackie)?
Theme 3 Energizing MomentsI put on my shield of up-beatness and I never, ever, let it down (Julie).
When I am able to laugh with my patients...it makes the terrible things I see less of a weight on me (Justine).
Discussion QuestionsIs the avoidance of compassion fatigue rooted in the attitude or outlook held by exemplary nurses?
Is there a link between values and attitude?
3. What strategies encourage a positive attitude toward nursing and care giving?
4. How can we encourage meaningful patient-nurse moments of connection?
ConclusionIt seems there is something within the lived experience of exemplary nurses that facilitates the avoidance of compassion fatigue.
More research is needed.Positive Attitude/Values ?Exemplary care givingConnections?Fulfillment?Compassion fatigue avoided?
Cycle of Connection?
The Miracle CircleSometimes, When I think about the vastness and complexity of the world,I am overwhelmed.I feel so unimportant - so insignificant.
Then, I meet you,And with a small gesture, lovingly givenI make you feel valued.
The result is a miracle.When you feel important, so do I .Its so simple its so profound.I
References and Contact
LaRowe, K. (2005). Compassion fatigue: The heavy heart. Retrieved March 22, 2207, from http://compassion-fatigue.com/index.asp?PG=55Perry, B. (2008). Why exemplary oncology nurses seem to avoid compassion fatigue. Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal, 18(2), 87-92.
For more information contact Beth through http://moments.athabascau.ca