Nurses deal with battle fatigue in the fight against burnout
Being a caregiver for someone who’s ill or injured comes at a cost.
Sometimes that cost is emotional. Sometimes it’s physical. It doesn’t matter if the caregiver is a paid professional or a family member or friend.
If the caregiver doesn’t take time to take care of themselves, they and the patient can end up suffering. The caregiver can suffer from compassion fatigue, a kind of secondary traumatic stress disease that can manifest in depression, burnout, disengagement and depersonalization.
A caregiver with compassion fatigue can end up giving less compassionate, effective care, causing the patient to suffer.
When Siteman Cancer Center and Barnes-Jewish oncology nurse managers approached Pat Potter, director of research for patient care services, and Teresa Deshields, director of psycho-oncology services for Siteman Cancer Center, about boosting morale among their staff, Potter and Deshields, turned to compassion fatigue expert Eric Gentry.
Together, funded by a grant from the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, they developed a program to teach skills to nurses that would make them more resilient and able to battle compassion fatigue. The program is now rolling out to the entire hospital.