An Overview of Compassion Fatigue in Nursing

Nurses are some of the most important players of global healthcare today. They’re the first persons to offer care and support for patients as they undergo treatment. However, compassion fatigue is an overwhelming challenge that nurses continue to face every day. Here’s everything you should know about it.

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue is a unique term introduced to healthcare in 1992 after extensive observation of nursing practices worldwide. It refers to the exhaustion or weariness that takes place when a nurse consistently witnesses difficult or traumatic situations as a part of their job. Compassion fatigue can take various forms, including emotional, physical, and spiritual exhaustion.

When a nurse experiences an instant decline in their ability to perform tasks or have the energy to remain active at work, they’re undoubtedly subject to compassion fatigue.

Why Does it Happen?

A significant aspect of nursing is “giving oneself” to a patient in an effort to truly care for them. Nurses have been first-handedly exposed to various traumatic events for centuries, including wars, famines, and medical emergencies. Apart from basic nursing care, they’re also expected to stay by their patients during challenging times.

When nurses continue to give all of their energy to others to save them from their pain and trauma, they eventually experience compassion fatigue. As a result, they feel extensive exhaustion that disrupts their ability to perform efficiently in their personal and professional lives.

How to Deal with It?

The most critical step of helping nurses deal with compassion fatigue is acknowledging its existence. Many nurses are deemed as brave individuals who are doing just fine without any support. It’s crucial to accept that compassion fatigue exists.

This will ultimately pave the way for workplaces, nursing schools, and hospitals to introduce interventions that’ll help nurses recover from compassion fatigue.


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