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How to Prevent Compassion Fatigue

Instructor: Amy Lipsett

Amy works as a nurse educator for a university health care organization. She has a bachelor's of science in nursing and a master's degree in health care administration.

In this lesson you will explore helpful measures that health care providers can use to help to prevent compassion fatigue including self-reflection, self-care, separating home and family life, and utilizing available resources.

Dreading Work?

You are a nurse who works on a busy cardiac floor. You use to love your job, but recently you have to drag yourself into work. You called out sick from work last week because the thought of having to suffer through twelve straight hours made you so stressed that you were ill.

Whether you know it or not, you are suffering from compassion fatigue; the sheer amount of suffering patients in the workplace is getting you down, and you are starting to want to avoid it altogether. Could this have been prevented?

Prevention

Research has shown that health care professionals can utilize certain tactics to help to proactively prevent compassion fatigue. Self-care and self-reflection strategies have proven to be beneficial, as well as the separation of work and home. Let's look more deeply into these strategies as well as how to use available resources to help stop compassion fatigue before it happens.

Self-Care

You work tirelessly to provide the best possible care for your patients, but you must remember to take time to care for yourself as well.

Eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of rest can often be challenging for health care providers. Shift work often prohibits good sleeping patterns. Also, you may work very long shifts without an adequate break to eat a healthy meal. But a well-balanced diet and adequate periods of sleep and rest are crucial in the prevention of compassion fatigue.

Routine physical exercise can help to relieve stress, such as yoga or walking, meditation, and learning how to stay positive. Make your self-care needs a priority!

Self-Reflection

Self-reflection requires you to take a few moments after the end of a long shift to look back upon and digest the events that occurred that day. This allows you to identify any emotions that you are feeling and to understand why you're feeling them.

Work to create space between your shift and getting home. Maybe bike to work so you have a little more time to process on the way home (away from the stress of driving). Visit a park for a little while on the way home, or take a walk around the block before getting in your car to go home.

Emotions may stem from patient care issues, but may also be generated from other areas of life. Take time to self-reflect and deal with any underlying emotions so you can move past the events with a clear mind.

Separation of Work and Home

Sometimes health care professionals become so invested in their patients that it becomes a challenge to separate their work and home lives. A rough day at work can negatively affect your interactions and relationships with your family.

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