Which profession comes into your mind when you think about attributes like ‘compassion,’ ’empathy,’ or ‘gentleness?’ Most people would answer nurses. Many may have memories of being sick when nurses provided them with the best care. Although doctors devise treatment plans, most patients comment that nurses’ assistance helps them recover. Almost all nurses have one aspect in common; they all are compassionate and practice empathy.
Compassion in nurses is a valuable component. It enables them to provide emotional support and keep patients’ will to recover alive. Many patients admit that nurses’ support helped them in their misery and rekindled their will to live. However, several nurses gradually fail to practice it daily as it becomes their routine and feel exhausted. A vast majority of nurses put in extra efforts and work for double treble shifts straight. That takes a toll on their psychological and emotional health.
A general misconception is compassion fatigue and burnout is the same thing. The truth is it is a slightly different concept. It takes months and sometimes years to surface. Compassion fatigue is emotional withdrawal and mental draining that nurses and other healthcare workers experience due to taking care of traumatized or sick people for an extended period.
Compassion fatigue in nurses is not a new phenomenon, as it was recognized in nurses long ago. It directly impacts nurses’ performances and makes it difficult for them to carry on with their responsibilities. Nurses must avoid compassion fatigue to perform to their best abilities and assist patients on their road to recovery.
Nursing leaders who are aware of the causes of compassion fatigue ensure that it is addressed early on and that nurses are not overworked. Many nurses want to step into authoritative positions; they can take advantage of distance learning. They can enroll in doctoral nursing programs online and get themselves equipped with advanced skills.
Here we are listing down some points to shed light on why is it critical for nurses to avoid compassion fatigue:
- Compassion Fatigue can Result in Error of Judgment
Nurses who feel tired fail to pay attention and are prone to make errors. Depending on the situation and severity of patients’ conditions, compassion fatigue in nurses can adversely affect patients. In severe cases, it can lead to deteriorating conditions and can even make people die. Nurses often have to administer drugs and modify medication as per patients’ health. Compassion fatigue directly impacts nurses’ cognitive abilities, and they may incorrectly assess patients’ situations. For instance, nurses have to check patients’ vitals before giving medicines. Mental or physical tiredness or detachment from caring can make them do wrong assessments.
- It can lead to Poor Decision Making
Nurses may find themselves in critical situations unexpectedly. Sometimes they have to make important decisions, and patients’ health lies on those specific crucial decisions. The strong presence of mind, nerves of steel, and critical thinking skills help nurses analyze situations quickly and take decisions in patients’ favor. Compassion fatigue makes nurses lose control of the problem and themselves; they cannot assess the circumstances and delay decision-making. Delaying a medical action can exacerbate patients’ health or can prove fatal in some conditions. Timely decisions are of utmost significance in nursing and can turn the situation in patients’ favor.
- Compassion Fatigue can Make Nurses Miss out on Details
Nurses learn during their course that they must pay attention to even minute detail and should not consider anything insignificant. They need to dive into the nitty-gritty of patients and should not overlook anything. When nurses are emotionally exhausted, they miss key facts, which might lead to a dangerous situation. One of the nurses’ essential skills is that they should be keenly observant. Compassion fatigue makes them lose focus and bypass important points. While in some cases, missing out on a few things may not make much difference, it may often lead to severe consequences. Nurses cannot afford to leave patients’ health to chance and must be watchful while on duty.
- It Creates a gloomy Environment
Staff members establish organizations’ environments. Nurses are an integral aspect of healthcare organizations, and their attitudes and performance impact the healthcare facilities’ environment. Compassion fatigue in nurses affects their moods and lowers their spirits. They may report to work on time and strive to perform efficiently. Still, their low energy and sour mood affect organizations’ atmosphere. They may not realize, but in such conditions, nurses become unapproachable, and patients feel hesitant in drawing near to them.
- It Diminishes Nurses’ Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm for the profession is the crucial aspect that drives productivity and pushes employees to enhance their efficiency. Compassion fatigues make nurses lose motivation. They no longer take pride in their profession or feel good that they are serving the community. They take their job as work and fail to put in the extra effort. Moreover, nurses feeling stressed out find no motivation to enhance their learning and earn advanced skills. Instead, their mental exhaustion starts impacting their performance adversely.
The attitude of nurses is contagious; if they are upbeat and cheerful, their patients will see the glass as half full as well. Motivation is the key that keeps nurses lively; unfortunately, compassion fatigue diminishes their enthusiasm and dampens their spirits.
Nurses exhibit a gentle aura, and most of them carry a broad smile. They are typically easy to talk to and are ever ready to lend their support. However, nurses’ job is demanding, and it may mentally exhaust and emotionally drain them. Over time, some nurses start feeling detached from their profession and may not realize that they are going through compassion fatigue. Due to similar symptoms, people often confuse burnout and compassion fatigue; however, they are two different concepts. Compassion fatigue in nurses results in poor performance, leading to poor patient outcomes. Since nurses deal with the most essential constituent of human life, health, it is critical to avoid compassion fatigue to perform efficiently.