A career in nursing can be very rewarding and gratifying. However, this satisfaction does not come without a price. Nurses suffer from physical, mental and emotional exhaustion due to the demands of their job. Rising employee turnover rates are resulting in understaffing, which lead to nurses taking on a higher patient load each shift exposing them further to the burdens of handling traumatic situations on a daily basis. These strains can develop into compassion fatigue. Where there is stress there are opportunities for error and these errors put patients at risk. If nurses are not given the resources to care for themselves they are not able to offer the kind of care their patient’s require.
As nursing shortage rates …show more content…
In addition to their patients, they often have families that they are caring for in the limited amount of time they have outside of the work place. These time constraints lead them to make their needs the last priority, which also results in compassion fatigue.
Other causes of compassion fatigue include bearing witness to suffering and death, unresolved personal mental illness, and a lack of their own personal or social supports. In this respect it has been suspected that many nurses suffer from secondary traumatic stress (STS). STS is when natural behaviors and personal emotions occur from the knowledge of a traumatic event experienced by a patient and the stress that results from helping.
Fatigue among nurses has been shown to cause decreased productivity, more sick day usage and higher turnover rates. High turnover increases the workload for nurses that remain resulting in higher patient death rates and reduced patient safety (University of Nevada, 2012.) A nurse suffering from burnout will have reduced empathy and be lead to neglect certain patients, this increases the chances that patients will receive substandard care. When a patient is avoided, the nurse fails to form a therapeutic relationship and is unable to identify the patient’s problems and needs. As this scenario plays out, the patient becomes apprehensive in asking for help. If a nurse is not observing their patient intently, there is more room for errors to