6th World Nursing and Healthcare Conference
Belmont University, USA
Title: Compassion fatigue prevention education among interprofessional healthcare students
Biography: Erin C. Shankel
Nurse educators have long strived to produce competent, compassionate graduates. However, those who are the most compassionate may also be at the highest risk for developing compassion fatigue. In our School of Nursing, and in the broader College of Health Sciences, we have begun an initiative to proactively develop self-care habits among our students, thereby preventing compassion fatigue before they ever enter the workforce. Nurses and other health care professionals find themselves witnessing and partnering in the profound joys and sadnesses of life along with their patients. The cumulative effects of these encounters can result in feelings of frustration, powerlessness, and diminished morale. In short, these clinicians are left “running on empty”. As a result, they may ultimately leave the profession. A 2012 study showed that 29.6% of turnover could be attributed to compassion fatigue. The nursing profession cannot afford to lose the most compassionate among us to compassion fatigue; neither can our patients. Although only recently studied, several interventions for preventing compassion fatigue are emerging in the literature. Some of these include mindfulness, self-care, self-reflection, and careful work-life balance. Ironically, although most nurses are giving, caring people but find it hard to nurture themselves. It occurs to us as faculty that it might be possible to teach our students these compassion fatigue strategies, thereby equipping them for a long, productive, and fulfilling career in the field. Nursing, OT, PT, and social work students may attend sessions on subjects such as mindfulness, meditation, and early identification of compassion fatigue symptoms.