Compassion Fatigue is Real

Written By Professor Kirby

Compasion FatigueOften, nurses prioritize the needs of others above their own; this is greatly due to our compassionate and caring nature.  Let’s face it, it takes a special person to care for the needs of others.  This is what makes nursing an art.  However, the art of nursing includes self-care, too.  So, what happens when the nurse is depleted?  Is care compromised when nursing is no longer an art to us but a list of task to complete?

Compassion fatigue is probably more common in nursing then is acknowledged in health care.  According to Todaro-Franceschi (2015), many nurses do not realize they are experiencing compassion fatigue (p. 53). Compassion fatigue or burnout slowly develops over time which results in emotional exhaustion (Todaro-Franceschi, 2015, p.53 ). However, many nurses push through this moral distress to care for their patient. Nevertheless, the quality of care decreases because they become task oriented and their zeal for caring diminishes. Todaro-Franceschi (2015) describes the process as a natural defense mechanism to prevent overexertion of the individual (p. 53).

Lachman (2016) mentions some strategies to combat or recover from moral distress or compassion fatigue such as maintaining a balance in life and caring for yourself (p. 276). ANA (2015) Interpretative Statement Provision 5, emphasizes nurses must care for themselves in order to care for others (Lachman, 2016, p. 276). Other, strategies are to educate the staff on how to recognize signs of compassion fatigue, leaders must be supportive of the distressed staff, encourage employee assistance programs and focus on the positive are a few suggestions (Lachman, 2016, p. 277-278).

Reference
Todaro-Franceschi, V. (2015, June). The ART of maintaining the “care” in healthcare. Nursing Management, 46(6), 53–55. doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000465407.76450.ab

Lachman, V. D. (2016, July-August). Compassion fatigue as a threat to
ethical practice: Identification, personal and workplace prevention/management strategies. Medsurg Nursing, 25(4), 275-278. 

 

68 thoughts on “Compassion Fatigue is Real

  1. I am glad more and more researchers have noted nurses’ compassion fatigue and moral distress. Nursing is human science. Nurses care patients with their heart, compassionate. Burning out is a end stage of moral distress and compassion fatigue. Nurses need to learn to recognize the sign of compassionate fatigue and avoid the occurrence of burning out. It is really an art of nursing.

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    • Hi Fengzhi,
      Thanks for your feedback. Yes, this topic is often not mentioned in nursing school. Often, nurses work and work until they are burned out or a lesser replica of themselves is presented when administering patient care. We must care for ourselves and encourage our peers to care for themselves. At the end of the day, we will be able to produce a better patient care and outcomes because we presented this best version of ourselves.
      Charlene

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  2. You could also say that compassion fatigue exists in the role of nurse educator as well. Substitute the word ‘student’ for ‘patient,’ and in the 24 hours society, the nurse educator is expected to be available all the time. Nurse educators have empathy with students and remember being in their shoes, and how they were treated. While the ANA focuses on the bedside nurse but in my search for resources, none are found for educators. This might be an exciting area of study.

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    • Dr. Wilbur,
      Thanks for your feedback. I believe you are on to something. I am currently working as a clinical instructor and I enjoy it. It’s exciting and does not feel like work to me. However, some of my colleagues are working as both clinical and theory instructors with several different schools. They appear to be burning the candle at both ends. Although, I aspire to teach theory some day. I hope I can balance my life and remember self-care is essential to the best version of me.

      Charlene

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  3. This is facts, and is exciting that lot of researcher have notice it and have the idea to write about nurses lives and what they go though everyday. Nursing compassion is real and it’s something that nurses go through in their every day lives. Moreover compassion fatigue is something that nurses should be ready to face before trying to become a nurse. I understand that nurses need self care and that need too be taking care of, but The fact that you dealing with people from different culture and society you should expect that and be ready to control it .

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    • Hi Weyatta,
      Thanks for your response. Compassion fatigue is real and we as nurse must try to plan to avoid it. However, working 12-hour shifts, weekends, doubles and rotating shifts must self-care a challenge at times. Therefore, if we recognize we are running on empty we must stop everything. Take some time to focus on ourselves even if only for a few moments each day. Or plan self-care into our routine.
      Mrs. Kirby

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    • Hi Weyatta,
      You are correct. New nurses must be ready to balance life and practice self-care to prevent compassion fatigue. I believe all nurses had dealt with this at least once in their career. Thanks for your response.

      Mrs. Kirby

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  4. I have personally experienced compassion fatigue. I used to work in a nursing home caring for patients who suffered from Dementia as a med tech. between the stress of working in that type of environment and how many hours I was working in a week, I was burn out. You have to take time for yourself and reboot your system because you are caring so much for others. I hope this type of exhaustion will be recognized more in the health care field.

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  5. Jaclyn, Thanks for your response. Yes, the long hours combined with travel time makes finding me-time a challenge. Also, many jobs frown upon nurses using their sick and/or vacation time due to their need for staff. So, how do you avoid or recover (if it’s too late to avoid) from Compassion Fatigue? I once heard a saying, “Every time I say yes to you, I say no to me.” Think about it if your yes takes away from your peace, then the answer needs to be no. No, I cannot work an extra shift. No, I cannot cut my vacation short. But, yes, I can sleep in late or get up early to jog because I desire to and this brings me peace.
    Mrs. Kirby

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  6. I have personally experienced compassion fatigue. When my mom was diagnosed with Cancer, I had just switched my shift to 11 pm- 7 am. I work with special needs children and adults at a residential treatment facility. I would work all night then go home to my house and take care of what I had to do for my household. Then I would go to my parents and help my Dad take care of my mom. I was at my parents well into the evening. This was the same process almost everyday and night until I would finally crash for only a few hours. Then start it all over again. I would sleep like every 4 or 5 days but only for a little and I was 100 pounds soaking wet. The only benefit was that I had the opportunity to be with my mom so by the time she passed, almost a year after being diagnosed, I had no regrets. People that are not in this field will never understand.

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  7. I honestly had no idea that this was a real thing. Some nights when I come home from work, I am so mentally exhausted that I also feel physically worn down. It is hard to put yourself first while caring for others.

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  8. I personally have experienced this. When I first had my son I was raising him by myself, taking care of my father, as well as going through a lot of family issues. Caring for others is exhausting at a certain point. I experienced significant weight loss and depression and didn’t even realize what was going on with me. It almost becomes second nature to put those that you’re caring for before yourself, and forget about your own needs entirely because of how tiring it is to keep up.

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    • Hi Anne,
      Thanks for sharing. You are correct. As caregivers, it’s easy to convince yourself meeting the needs of others (esp. our loved ones) is essential but not placing the same importance on self-care is hard. Even if it’s only for a few minutes a day to unwind. Hats off! This program is something you are doing for yourself. Others may benefit but this is your goal and you will feel amazing when it is accomplished. But, take a break from school is healthy, too. Best wishes 🙂 Mrs. Kirby

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  9. I enjoyed reading this article, very informational. I find compassion fatigue being incredibly real, and unfortunate at times. Personally, working in the health care, it’s difficult to find myself wanting to work all the time after the start of this pandemic. It hit incredibly hard and fast, and as much as I love my job, I find myself physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day, not feeling so much passion anymore. It doesn’t affect the care that I give because I still love going to work and seeing my patients, the reality is just being incredibly exhausted after work being out of the normal.

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  10. From personal experience, My mom has compassion fatigue. My mom is completely exhausted after coming home from work and she used to have so much passion. She still has it but I don’t see the same amount of drive that she used to have, she still loves her job and would do anything to take care of her patients. I just see a slight diminish from what it used to be.

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  11. I never personally knew someone that experienced burnout but I find it very important to always take care of yourself and have a little bit of me time so you don’t lose the drive you have for nursing.I actually did my whole PPR presentation on burnout and I found it super interesting how from being emotionally exhausted can make you regret your whole career choice. I know I have met overworked nurses in the past that were exhausted and they were extremely rude , so you should never let burnout be a cause to why your not polite to a patient and that’s why it is so important to always take some time for yourself as a nurse.

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  12. I have never experienced compassion fatigue myself but definitely see how it can happen. Caring for people who are not at their best can cause you to not be at yours. It can be exhausting and draining. Believe it or not, prior to this year, I didn’t even know what self-care was! I have been actively trying to make time for and take care of myself since then. As I enter the nursing field, it’s more important than ever!

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  13. I have not experienced compassion fatigue with being in the medical field, but I believe I have experienced it while working with my current job which is caring for elementary school kids before and after school. I love working with kids and hope to work with them in the medical field but they can be exhausting at times. I would come home from work at night and not want to do anything because I was so tried and wore out from running around with them. Friends would want me to go out on a Friday night and I wanted to stay home and go to bed early.

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  14. This was a great read! I believe that many nurses don’t always take time for self care and that compassion fatigue is real and hardly discussed . I believe a majority put others before themselves and that is just the nature of there nursing character. It is crucial to take time for yourself and regroup. I do agree nursing is an art but if you are less expressive in that art, how valuable do you think it would be? Not very much! Hopefully that makes sense.

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    • Hi Caitlin, It does make sense. Do you want to deliver a priceless work of art (aka unmatchable, or superb care)? Or just as an average work of art that is common and can be found anywhere (like artwork found at a dollar store)? The average work of art represents bare minimum nursing care which is acceptable but not as impactful. Just as the artwork in the Dollar Store may be beautiful but not as valuable.
      Great analogy 🙂
      Mrs. Kirby

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  15. I have definitely experienced compassion fatigue. Working with critically ill patients at my old job and now working with terminally ill patients who are fighting against the big C. It is so draining some days as a person who cares so deeply and just gives their all to patients. Even if i have my own things going on i give my all to my patients because i try and remind myself that i am blessed to not have to walk in their shoes. I do my best to go above and beyond to treat these patients and then come home and just want to ‘take my smile off’ and relax. Then i have to do what feels like a million other things to take care of my home, my dogs, and if my family members need me. Now also juggling nursing school some days i feel so defeated. But lately i am making sure to take little moments just for myself, because i have seen what happens if you dont. One of my favorite sayings that my mother said to me growing up and still does today– “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” I always repeat this to myself when i find myself sinking into a ‘rut’.

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    • Hi Bella,
      Thanks for sharing. Recognizing you are running low is the first step to prevention of compassion fatigue. Often people do not recognize they are burning the candle at both ends until it’s too late. You have a lot on your plate. Please, remember to always force yourself or schedule in some downtime. And, your mother’s word is a great reminder to stop and put everything down. Great Post!
      Be Encouraged:)
      Mrs. Kirby

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  16. I have never experienced compassion fatigue, but I have had friend who did. She was taking care of a patient in extended care wo had cancer. She constantly felt afraid about his health and safety. He ended up dying due to the lung cancer that he had. This had such an impact on her that it overshadowed the enjoyment in her profession. So compassion fatigue is definitely something a lot of people experience.

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    • Hi Lavender,
      Thanks for sharing. I feel bad for your friend. It sounds like that experience impacted his career negatively. I do not know if he still works with cancer patients but maybe he should consider not working with that particular patient group. Mrs. Kirby

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  17. i have experienced this before, and unfortunately it is for a family member of mine. I try to care but my dad is sick ALL THE TIME. something is wrong with him and once that heals something else happens. all these issues are usually not related, and will randomly come about. They are dangerous and some of the times he has almost died but its just exhausting keeping up and having sympathy for him now. he has a fever hes vomiting, hes breaking this bone, hes getting this surgery. it sounds horrible but its been about 15 years now where something is wrong. I work in group homes and i’m a mother and i have not experienced it with patients or my children, besides a slight exhaustion of my collicy newborn being 2 and a half now and still crying over everything.

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    • Hi Miranda,
      I send positive thoughts and vibes to you. You are a trooper! You have a lot on your plate and you are still excelling. I commend you for being there for everyone. Please, find time to be there for yourself. Even if it’s just an early morning stroll while everyone’s sleeping. And, don’t feel guilty for your feelings of exhaustion. You are only human. I am rooting for you! You have a lot of grit! And, I love to see dreams come to especially when people truly are striving and overcoming obstacles to achieve them. I appreciate you sharing this with me.

      Mrs. Kirby

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  18. Unfortunately, I have experienced compassion fatigue myself. While working as a Cna, the consistent heavy workloads and lack of staff had put a lot of pressure on me. There were instances where I may have lacked in the socialization/ compassion aspect, and couldn’t give my full potential of care. At times i had to focus strictly on completing the tasks at hand. I think most people that go into the healthcare field, go in with a desire to care and help people, I know i did. I still do but it is important to care for yourself as well because if you don’t, it can reflect in your work. I believing taking good care of yourself along with better staffing/patient loads could greatly reduce compassion fatigue.

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  19. I have personally experienced compassion fatigue on a personal level when l had to care for my father who was terminally ill discharged from the hospital.l remember going for 3 days without getting proper sleep, forgeting to eat while making sure he gets every meal. Compassion fatigue is real and many people go through it unconsciously.

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    • Thanks, Nokuthula for sharing! I agree people often do not recognize they are going through compassion fatigue or know it exist. I hope this course embeds in you the concept of self-care because this will be your saving grace in this program.
      Mrs. Kirby

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  20. I myself have had compassion fatigue due to my former CNA job. I worked at a long term care facility and staff was always short so therefore that put extra work on the of aids, staff were always calling out and the job was a lot of wear and tear on your body. After a while it became to much that I left the job and after I left I felt very relieve. My mother is a social worker and has been one for 23 years and she experiences compassion fatigue sometimes. She works long tedious hours and always comes home and crashes. I think compassion fatigue is easy to fall into and if you don’t make time for yourself, it can eventually affect your physical and mental health.

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    • Deanna, Resigning from your old job…… Good for you! Inadequate staffing can be a vicious cycle…… short staff, unreasonable caseloads, and demands lead to burnout, which leads to an increase in callouts, which leads to some staff working overtime. And, lastly, many become overwhelmed, and compassion fatigue sets in. It is a slippery slope. I glad you removed yourself from the equation:)

      Mrs. Kirby

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  21. I have experienced compassion fatigue directly in two very different capacities. I am an Advocate Volunteer. I assist SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) with victims. Needless to say, you see some of the very worst humanity has to offer. Burnout would come quicker I believe if we did not have the group meetings, workshops, therapy and training that we do.
    I also worked in hospice for a long time. It is said in nursing to leave work at work. This is much easier said than done. Compassion fatigue was worse for me here. You work so hard to not blur the therapeutic care line. In hospice care you work closely with the family if the patient has any or in awful cases you become the family. I poured everything I had into the patients that I was caring for at that time. I gave everything I had and then the rest. I became a shell of myself, feeling awful when a nagging voice in the back of my head would tell me not to cross the line. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am grateful for what hospice care taught me about myself. I gained a vast amount of self-awareness. One of the biggest things was I need to put me first in order to give care to others effectively, efficiently and in the most caring manner possible.
    Having this one experience and continuing the other has prepared me for what could have become a time of compassion fatigue. Currently, I am the sole caretaker of two aging parents. I have more knowledge in what type of self-care I need. I feel less guilt (no, it is not non-existent) about not being able to do it all. I have a support system in place. Having all of these things and actively implementing them in my daily life makes it possible to take care of my parents.
    I hope utilizing these tools and other will keep me from experiencing compassion fatigue in the future.

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  22. Compassion fatigue is real! However this is the heart of nursing daily lives. Working hard being burnt out, doing doubles its a handful without having time for themselves. Compassion fatigue plays a major part in healthcare. Myself sometimes can feel fatigue working in long term care as a medication technician and personal care, not only doing doubles and going above and beyond for my residents, but dealing with staff shortages can cause physical and mentally distress. Eating and sleeping patterns can be off due to being overwhelmed.

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  23. I have some experience with compassion fatigue, experiencing some of the early stages myself and seeing it in coworkers. I saw some of it before the pandemic, though not that often, but noticed a drastic increase of people beginning to experience or outright suffering from this at my work when the pandemic hit. My facility was hit somewhat hard, we had a lot of positives in the building and we lost a lot of residents we had all known for years, some gradually and some fast. Staff shortages got worse so many people were working extra shifts, while still working short, and with additional work to do and policies to follow. On top of that people had to deal with worries about exposure to the virus and potentially spreading it to other clients or their own family members.

    Luckily the situation has improved so that has helped just by removing some stressors. Beyond that a lot of the staff did try to be supportive of one another and strived to lighten the atmosphere when possible and encourage breaks for those who were truly at the end of their rope. That support and teamwork went a long way in helping people who were experiencing compassion fatigue and burnout. For me I know I took a lot of time when I was outside of work to just relax and ground myself, doing my best to separate myself from what was happening at work.

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    • Hi Dani,
      Thanks for sharing and mentioning our current “Pandemic.” I am glad your facility is in better shape and it sounds like you are in better shape. This was a trying time and add not having the proper PPE on top…..Very Stressful Times.
      Mrs. Kirby

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  24. Compassion fatigue in nursing is something we will all encounter in our nursing career, Some people can’t handle it and will end up switching careers, Some people will be able to overcome it feel better about their profession.

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  25. This article was really interesting. I actually have experienced work fatigue and did not realize it. I worked as a CNA for 5 years. I did love my job, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t take a lot out of me. Some of it was from work place bullying and some was from being under staffed. It’s good to understand more of what was going on and to remember for the future to look out for signs of compassion fatigue, so that I can try to better handle it.

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  26. Yes i would say it is natural to experience at some point of nursing career have the feeling of compassion is draining no matter how hard we try to pretend its our calling. Before you burn out there are warnings we should not avoid and my advice is walk away take a rest if you can do something you enjoy or being around people who give to you who you enjoy, also with exercise and good food. meditation is something i have been working on now i find that amazingly effective. i always see the compassion of taking others is a gift the world needs more of it.I hope this was helpful in some small way.

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  27. No I have experience any fatigue, but I know nursing as a whole will contain to experience because we saw what happen around march of 2020 with the virus. There were lot of nurses who experience compassion fatigue and they are still going through the stress. some of them feel like giving-up but at as professional nurse you have to save lives at all time.

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  28. I have never experience compassion fatigue but i believe it is real, and as a nurse your goal is to take care of your patients so because of that they don’t have time to focus on themselves and realize whats is happening to them. With the pandemic that is going on now and nurses working long hours there is a lot of them that are overwhelm but because their caring heart and willingness to help others it is begin overlooked.

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  29. I have witnessed colleagues of mine who have had compassion fatigue. One, in particular, ended up resigning from her position due to a lack of self-care. The stress of her position consumed her and her personal life. She was always so concerned about
    This was honestly a great little read, it was a good reminder to me that I need to put myself first at times.

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  30. My mom is someone who has experienced compassion fatigue. Although she is not an LPN anymore that role still carried on throughout her family members getting ill/sick… one being my grand mom having stage 4 lung cancer. During the period of my grand mom getting diagnosed up until she died my mom non-stop took care of her and rarely got any sleep or rest. Not only was it her mom, but because she was an LPN in the past she felt like it was somewhat her responsibility to take charge of my grand mom’s care. I will take from this topic that even though you are responsible for someone’s care at your job or even at home like my mom, you’re also responsible for your own self care as well. Taking care of yourself will make you an even better nurse and you will feel fulfilled going into the job.

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    • Hi Breiana,
      Great takeaway points… Often, nurses feel obligated because of their knowledge and experience when caring for loved ones. Other times, other family members expect them to oversee all the care. However, self-care has to be incorporated into the equation. Easier said, than done.
      Mrs. Kirby

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  31. I personally don’t know anyone that has had compassion fatigue, although I know it is very common in the healthcare field. In order to avoid compassion fatigue one must have proper self care and have a life outside of work. They should be doing things outside of work that they enjoy to do so they don’t get burned out. My mother has been an RN for 20 years and I have to remind her sometimes to practice self care. You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

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  32. Yes I have experience compassion fatigue. Working in long term care it is easy to see who is a good worker. I am a people pleaser, So when you put them to together my supervisor told the scheduler and my phone never stopped ringing for overtime. I was not aware of compassion fatigue, but when I started receiving complaints about not having the best attitude like normal or being a little snappy, I realized I can except all the shift asked of me, even if i want to be there to help out I need to get rest or I wont be the good worker they know and love!

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  33. Compassion fatigue can happen to any nurses, it’s unpredictable. I know a few nurses who have experienced compassion fatigue.They were tired, felt bored with their work, and distant from patients and colleagues. Finally, they changed their jobs. And I think that’s right, so as not to harm themselves and the patients. I have never experience compassion fatigue.

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  34. My neighbor who is a close family/friend has experienced compassion fatigue. She is a RN at St. Mary’s and she is always putting her patients needs before her own well being. She tells me stories all the time about her long hours and how exhausted she constantly is. I don’t know much about this considering i’ve never experienced it myself but compassion fatigue is definitely a serious issue in the medical field. People need to take time for self-care and their own well being. My personal opinion is that if we’re constantly exhausted and not taking care of ourselves we’ll burn out and it could affect our mental health.

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  35. Compassion fatigue has made most of the nurses during corona virus to forget about themselves and focus on their patient. They devoted their time and energy to save their client in any way possible during the outbreak. I have seen compassion fatigue in some of the nurses at the place i work. This lady went above and beyond to make sure that her patients had masks, and her fellow workers PPE so that her patient could be taken care of during shortage of items for healthcare workers. she would even go to dunkin donuts to buy coffee and donuts for the patients and staff. She always answer the call bell, made sure her patients are well taken care of. during the high peek of the virus in our facility, she was always there when people call out, and you could see that she was tired but she kept on pushing herself just for her patients and staff. she ended up getting the virus but she was taken care of during her time off. We bought food, cleaning supplies, and other things for her during her time away from the job. She made it through and when she came back, she focus on herself and her patients at the same time.
    I have also experience compassion fatigue working as a aide. I love my clients and i go above and beyond to get them what they want once it’s within my reach or it’s part of job description. i sometime even go to the store get some snacks, soap/body wash, body spray and for the once that smoke and their family stop visiting them. Having compassion for what we do is part of who we are and the calling we answer once we got into the healthcare field.

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  36. I didn’t even realize I experienced this until I read this post. I nannied for 4 years for a family with 3 kids; 2 of the kids being special needs, I was basically a parent to them and started to get extremely burnt out when COVID hit since I was now playing the role of parent, teacher, and student. It was a lot, but I managed to get through it!

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  37. I have experienced compassion fatigue while working with patients on an oncology floor and in dementia care. I used to feed my emotions with comfort food and sweets and/or extra sleep which were bad choices and only added to my fatigue. I’ve learned that daily exercise and making better food choices has helped me deal with stress. Also making plans to go away for a quick weekend has also helped me cope with the stress of my chosen profession in healthcare. My aim is to help people feel better and recover and I’m blessed to be able to help those in need.
    But I’m very mindful that I have to take care of myself. What’s the saying “You cannot pour from an empty vessel”.

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    • Hi Dani,
      Very well spoken… You can’t pour out of an empty vessel. And, your mindset of being blessed to be a blessing to others will likely keep you from going over the edge. I am glad you recognized your bad choice was contributing to your compassion fatigue and you decided to make changes.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Mrs. Kirby

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  38. When I worked with hospice patients, I experienced compassion fatigue. I realized that population was not a good fit for me because I was not able to leave my work at work, which led to emotional exhaustion. Losing patients proved to be tough emotionally and I did not have any special training to work with this population. After reading this I realize other situations in which I experienced compassion fatigue which I did not realize at the time. Thank you for shedding light on this issue many of us have experience and may experience in the future.

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    • Thanks for sharing Bri. Many do experience compassion fatigue and not recognize it. We promise ourselves we will take a break and care for ourselves after we do one more thing. But, there is always another thing waiting after that one more thing is done. Before, you know it we are physically and emotionally drained. And, have never take that break we promised ourselves whether it is a walk, a vacation, or just a lunch break. Yes, nurses skip lunch, and bathroom breaks regularly at work… It shouldn’t be that way but most times it is.
      Mrs. Kirby

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  39. Nursing fatigue is the most common and nurses always go through this and it’s really hard to balance . I been a working in health car field for over 10 years and there’s been time when i have a lot off stress and anxiety .

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  40. I have experienced compassion fatigue in the past. During the middle of Covid-19, I got back into the nursing field and worked for a client who did not have enough staff to cover his shifts. There was a time where I would work double shifts every day because I felt bad because there was no one else to cover his shift. I couldnt deal with the thought of him being left alone due to lack of staff, when I could go in and help. This caused me to constantly be exahusted and made me grumpy, my entire mood changed. I would get angry quickly and lost interest in things I enjoyed doing. It got to the point where I would go into work and get upset over minor things. I had to stop working double shifts and cut down to 3 days a week because the work load became to much for me to handle.

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  41. compassion fatigue is real, employees across different industries though more pronounced in the health care sector are suffering in silence. A friend had to resign from her healthcare work because it was affecting his performance at work and relationship with family and friends.

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  42. I have experienced compassion fatigue and it had a lot to do with someone i truly cared about, which made it difficult because it was draining to me as a person. I wanted to take their pain and give them peace but then it was detrimental to me because i realized they didn’t want to solve the issues they complained and talked about over and over again. im a solver. i know i cant control and solve everything so i had to learn to find a balance and be okay with not being a “savior”. That translated into me wanting to show this person that it could be done. i had done it, lets try to fix what we can and lets let go of what we cant. But it took a lot out of me. It reached a point where i hated being around this person and would get angry and mean which i didn’t want to be . But subconsciously i felt stuck . Nevertheless, i came to terms with understanding that some people would rather live in the pain than find a way to get out of it. And sometimes, they either don’t know how to or just don’t want to. That was when i realized i was not to “save” anyone but just to show love and compassion.

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  43. I have never experienced compassion fatigue from a professional standpoint but I have on a personal level with people who complain about the same thing day after day. I find myself tired and worn out by people who use me as a vessel to vent but do nothing to change their own behaviors to modify the outcome. Reading Chapter 5 offers insight in not only dealing with compassion fatigue but ways to avoid it as well.

    The things I have taken from this Chapter are establishing boundaries and the need to learn how to set limits, working on my own self-awareness to help assess and learn about my own self, and developing a care plan for myself to help avoid feelings of compassion fatigue.

    After reading this, I cannot help but feel that my behaviors were reactionary and not at all helpful to the people who were depending on me for support. Instead of modifying MY behavior to be more helpful, I found myself asking what was wrong with THEM. Reading this chapter has been eye opening that though I may feel like I am watching a car accident in “slow-mo” there ARE things I can do to not only offer better assistance, but to make my life more bearable as well.

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  44. I have slightly experienced compassion fatigue but my mother definitely did. She was a CNA for 30yrs and was also raising six children as a single mother. She would make sure we all had the best education and went to the best schools and she parented us the best way she could. She also had a client who was paralyzed and cared for him for 15yrs and another who had many health problems and she worked with her for 12yrs. Although my mother had clients she would always work overtime at Einstein. She would be oh so tired but still made sure we took a plethora of trips and went to all different local free festivities. But the roles changed and me and my five siblings had to care for her, when I was 14 I found out my mom had been battling cancer and it got to the point where she couldn’t hide it anymore. I had to move in with my older sister down south because she could no longer care for me. But whenever I came home for break I would have to help her do her daily activities. It was very different and difficult for me because I never saw my mother so weak and in pain. The roles she helped me with I had to do for her whenever I got to travel to come see her. It was very tiring for a 14yr old to help feed their parent and help her ambulate and also help her with self care. It was also a painful and exhausting experience seeing her go on my spring break.

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  45. I believe that we all will experience not just compassion fatigue but emotional fatigue at some point through out our lives on various occasions. This can be especially true when a person has a large abundance of people that they are some what emotionally “responsible” for or to who they have some what a connection for. For me personally I believe that I’m experiencing compassion fatigue right now and coming to the revelation that you cant full heartily show/compassion for every single human being. I say this not to sound cold hearted but as a philosophy I believe to be true. When a person continues to pour all there compassion and emotions out on a person or being I believe that it takes a toll in the long run on our own mental, emotional, and some times physical health. Another factor that contributes to this idea is if a person neglects them self by showing to much compassion or continuously showing compassion for others. The overall idea is how can a person care for another person if they fail to care for themselves. For me personally I’ve been showing compassion for so many for so long and I some times neglect my self; in order meet there needs and then the results turn out to be different in the long run which in tern I find can be quite detrimental to ones self. Just as a person can not physically perform to the best of their ability with out rest and the proper foods. A person can’t care for someone to the best of their ability without recharging their compassion by focusing on their self ,taking a step back to regather their thoughts ideas and emotions.

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  46. II had stood perplexed watching my calm and loving charge nurse lash out on our patient on this particular day over a trivial issue. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I knew something was amidst, maybe some personal issues, that wasn’t “the regular her”.
    She only muttered “ Zee , it’s just a bad day when I asked later on . This was the peak of the beginning of the covid period, working with paranoia, stuffed under thick PPE , shortage of staff, very sick clients (we were badly hit!)
    I was happy for her when she mentioned that her vacation was finally approved.Yeah, she needed it !.We both volunteered on COVID team early on before my facility was badly hit, a lot of call outs was witnessed, and picking those extra shifts on off -days and long 12 hours shifts was indeed exhausting.
    The in-flight attendants will always have this demonstration that about use of mask in case of an emergency , they will always remind you always put on your mask first before helping anyone next to you, ironically saying “you have to be alive to save another” .Yes …Compassion fatigue is indeed real.
    Caregivers should always understand that some “me-time” helps a lot. Much can only be achieved when we are at our best state. When are burnt out mistakes and grumpy Nurse abounds. You can give more when you are at your best, physically, emotionally and psychological. Caregivers/nurses should make out time to ease off stress, don’t wait till the fatigue sets in entirely , declutter their mind and yes , take that vacation and day off if really needed ..It takes one to be at best self to give your best compassion …This is very great reminder for everyone, Prof .K .I enjoy reading your blogs always!!

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    • Chinwe, I always enjoy your entries as well. You are very expressive. I hope we get to meet each other in person someday. I love getting to know my students and I do feel like I know some of you. Ok, back to compassion fatigue….. Thanks for sharing compassion fatigue can turn great nurse ugly for a moment. And, many nurses are so committed they do not take off or do not take off long enough to recuperate.
      Mrs. Kirby

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      • Thanks a lot! Mrs K.It will be a great honor to meet you someday(outside the walls of zoom) .Your course has been stitching up that ethic/morals garment for us to wear sometime soon as we go about our daily Nursing duties,to add thag color essentially needed for our professionalism.
        Yea!if i didn’t know my Charge Nurse ,i would have perceived her as a horrible Nurse and so will a passerby at that moment could have seen her …No thanks to Compassion Fatigue….Best Regards!

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  47. I actually did a presentation on this! not in so many words, it was the negative feed back of nursing. i kind of wish i thought about fatigue cause that does play a major role in the process of negative feed back. Have i experienced fatigue? yes, so much so i wanted to quit in the middle of shifts plenty of times. its not really on the nursing aspect but the work load! for some strange reason they think we are bots that just can be present at any giving moment. its not like we dont care about the people we are treating but its so many at one time its hard to keep up. we are over worked, we are ridiculed, bashed, cussed out and over looked. being a good nurse doesnt really measure how well you do your job but how much your heart is into it. Trust me if your heart is not into this you are going to be stressed!!!! just being a CNA is harsh. if you think nursing is bad please join my team, where no matter what you do its not enough credit. we should really get paid more for what we do, we are the eyes and ears for the nurses as they are to doctors. Its really not fair how we get paid for such a demanding job, if you talking about fatigue you could forget it, atleast nursing can get a rest day if they feel like they arent up for the task that evening. Let a CNA call out, all hell would break loose. we are more under staff then the nurses are. but like i said before if you are in this for the money then you can forget it.. nursing in its self its a high prioritized job and if your not up for the task then please dont sign up for it

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    • Stephon, Very true nursing is a thankless job most times. The CNA’s do the most valuable job daily; however, are recognized the least (with compensation, accolades, staffing ratios, etc). An although, compassion fatigue can occur with any caregiver the conditions of the work environment may increase the chances for CNA’s. Then productivity decreases and patient care declines or abuse occurs (more verbal or neglect vs physical) due to the caregiver being exhausted. Please, take time for yourself and hopefully when you are a nurse you can find a nicer job. This place sounds horrible.
      Mrs. Kirby

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      • so how do you change certain factors? is it fair that a CNA get paid less the a LPN when we do more then a nurse does in the nursing home? do we get tired that our pay rate is almost bare minimum but if i push a pill or 2 i can get paid more? where do we draw this line? almost any place a cna work we are freaking beat, Like really beat! im tired just thinking about it.

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  48. I see your point. But, when you are a nurse you will realize they work very hard too. It appears they have it better but to the contrary, they do not. It may be less physical and more mental demands. Nevertheless, more education more money than most times and less physical demand. Ask a nurse you have a good relationship with if she feels her job is challenging? And, if she is honest she will say yes. Nurse experience compassion fatigue all the time; so much, that some leave the profession altogether. After all the schooling, studying and state board exams…. they vow never to work as a nurse again. I met a former LPN that now inspects playground equipment for his township.
    Mrs. Kirby

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