AdvisorSheppard, Kate G.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPurpose: The purpose of this project was to conduct an educational workshop among ICU nurses working in rural areas, to reduce risk of compassion fatigue. Background: Compassion fatigue is a job-related hazard unique to professionals in caring professions such as nursing. Rural ICU nurses represent a population that may encounter unique triggers for the risk of compassion fatigue due to professional isolation, less resources and more risk of knowing the patient as a community member. A review of literature reveals limited research related to compassion fatigue development in rural ICU nurses. Method: Two educational workshops were conducted among rural ICU nurses (N=3). Workshop content included discussion about symptoms, triggers, and outcomes of compassion fatigue, as well as positive coping strategies. Participants journaled physical and emotional responses to situations such as ethical or moral dilemmas, boundary issues, and aspects of self-care. Each workshop included time to discuss the educational content and participant experiences; the resulting narratives were analyzed for commonalities. Findings: Universally, burnout was viewed as inherent to the profession. All participants recounted past traumatic patient encounters that preoccupies their thinking when in similar situations. Symptoms identified as compassion fatigue included chronic, constant, generalized pain, symptoms of depression, isolation, withdrawal and lack of interest in enjoyable activities. Triggers were prolonged patient hospitalizations due to lack of resources, lack of supporting services, lack of leadership support, unexpected patient loss, witnessing patient trauma and grief, caring for patients who did not seem to really need ICU, social situations surrounding patients 10 and floating to different departments. Increased alcohol intake, sarcasm, and venting were the most reported mitigation strategies among participants. Implications: Compassion fatigue negatively impacts the lives of rural ICU nurses on many dimensions, although it is perceived as inherent to the profession. These participants desired support from nursing leadership and a supportive work environment. Participants expressed they continued to feel compassion, despite experiencing the phenomenon described as compassion fatigue. A less stigmatizing term might better capture the phenomenon now labeled as compassion fatigue.