Compassion Fatigue & Nursing







For any non-medical friends following this blog, it may come as a surprise that the words compassion and fatigue combined are a reality for many caregivers.  One pictures the bravery, kindness, and competence of a firefighter, nurse, or other caregiver-strong individuals who can handle any and every situation.  The reality sometimes could not be farther from the truth.

Compassion fatigue is defined as the “loss of the ability to nurture.”  It is considered a “cost of caring.”  While the symptoms are similar to those of burnout, the cause and onset are different.  Burn out is a result of job related dissatisfaction while compassion fatigue is more directly patient related.  Burn out occurs gradually over time while compassion fatigue can be more acute in its onset.  Could you be experiencing compassion fatigue?

Signs & Symptoms

Here are just a few:

  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Feeling of overwhelm
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Decreased Job Satisfaction
  • Pointing Blame

The Affected

Compassion fatigue can affect any professional caregiver.  Any healthcare worker is at risk as well as police, social workers and therapists.  Nurses, especially acute and intensive care, are at high risk.  Any nurse working in close proximity to patients that are suffering are at risk.  The risk to the individual is serious if untreated and can include anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease to name a few.

 Prevention & Intervention

 It is essential for the at risk population to balance work life with personal life.  The innate caregiver often spends more time caring for others than self which can quickly lead to an imbalance.  Self care is essential.  A healthy diet, exercise, and regular non work related activities can help maintain a balance.

In addition, it is important to be offered and attend debriefing sessions following a traumatic event in the workplace.  Often, the individuals do not even recognize the symptoms themselves.  As such, it is important to have regular on job education with regard to the risks and prevention of compassion fatigue.  Also, education in coping with grief and trauma should be implemented in high risk areas.

Nurses often play the role of both first and continued responder in the workplace which puts the individual at high risk for compassion fatigue.  It is important to be aware of the risks, signs, and interventions to ensure a healthy balance in the workplace.  Look out for one another, be kind to one another, help one another.  If you know someone that you suspect may be suffering, talk to them.  Start the conversation.  No more suffering silently.  Offer support, find help.  The medical community needs to better evolve to not only support our patients and protect our patients fully, but support and protect each other as well ❤



Happy Spring

IMG_5330Happy spring from northern Sweden!  For many of us here, spring has shown itself through some of the most beautiful sun filled days.  While the cold remains and the forecast predicts snow, with help of lighter days and spring blooms we can begin to feel  winter behind us.

With spring comes a sense of renewal, planting of new thoughts and ideas, and perhaps setting new intentions in life.  With that in mind, I am looking to plant seeds of inspiration and intentions in some of you.  Is there anyone among you that would like to contribute to Neonurse?  I am looking for volunteers whose ideas align with the heart of this blog-inspiration, observations, and advice.  Are you an individual that loves to write?  Do you find inspiration in others?  Do you have advice you would like to share with fellow nurses?

I am  looking for the following:

  • Students Nurses
  • Specialty Nurses (Geriatric, Pediatric, ICU, NICU, O.B., Women’s Health, E.R,)
  • Travel Nurses
  • Retired Nurses
  • Disaster Relief Nurses
  • Nurse Volunteers (Operation Smile, Doctors Without Borders)

The intention is to have monthly or bimonthly contributors.  No previous experience is necessary.  Let’s chat ❤



Betina Austin: ‘Life should not be taken for granted’

motimela 1

So proud of the amazing work one of our previously featured nurses, Betina, continues to do.  Her courage to help otherwise helpless infants makes her a nurse hero.  Read about her experience working with Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan.  Way to go, Betina!  Keep up the amazing work ❤

Betina Austin: ‘Life should not be taken for granted’

Beyond the Bedside: Why Nurses Are Never Truly Off Duty


You have probably experienced the following multiple times in your career.  A family member or friend asks you to take a look at a growth they are concerned about.  Perhaps a loved one was recently prescribed a new medication?  While it is beyond our scope of practice to diagnose, it is not beyond our scope of practice to suggest that our friend or family member have that growth looked at, what kinds of tests to anticipate, and what kinds of questions to ask the doctor.  It is not beyond our scope of practice to check that family member’s new drug against any other prescribed medications to be sure there is no risk of adverse drug interaction.  Being a nurse follows us far beyond a twelve-hour shift.  Our patients are those we are assigned as well as strangers on the bus, our best friends, our children, or our parents.  The following are just a few reasons why while a nurse may have clocked out, he or she is never truly off duty.


Do you assess every individual you encounter in a public place?  If you are anything like me, you size up every customer in the grocery store or passenger when boarding a plane.  Perhaps you keep a close eye on the slow moving lady on the bus who appears out of breath?  The public counts on us to be its eyes.  How many of you were the first to recognize a stranger in distress?


Our listening skills are honed in many ways from day one in our training.  Nurses listen. We listen to sounds of the body and words of our patients.  Our ears are trained to recognize everything from a heart murmur or wheezing to signs of depression or risk for suicide.  We are looking for any clues in what information we are being given that would indicate further investigation is needed.


As part of our profession, our education is ongoing.  As treatment evolves, so does our skill set and experience.  While our knowledge and experience may belong to a specialty, we are still rooted in the foundation of our training.  We know enough to recommend what kinds of questions a loved one should ask a doctor when being seen.


A nurse is prepared both on and off duty.  We are prepared for the questions.  We are prepared to give advice and references.  We are prepared to administer any life saving care in any situation.  Preparation becomes second nature.

As part of one of the most trusted professions, nurses are a frequent sought out resource for public health information.  As such, friends, family, and complete strangers will confide in us.  It is why we are never truly off duty.  It is part of what makes being a nurse such an honor.


Change is Good

IMG_4614Happy New Year, nurse friends!!  Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season ❤  2018 has already presented itself with some huge changes.  Mighty Nurse, the online nursing community that I have been writing for over the past couple years, has been absorbed by a much bigger company and as such will no longer be offering an online platform for nurses, nursing students, and other healthcare professionals.

It has been a wonderful experience where I was able to share my experience as a nurse with nearly one million readers every week.  Mighty Nurse gave me a platform and the freedom to write.  I will be forever grateful to Brock and everyone there for giving me the opportunity.

My first thought was what next?  Fear of change and the unknown can be paralyzing to some, but it is just the reality and evolution of life.  The best thing is to mourn it and move on.  Embrace change.  You never know what is just around the corner.

My hope is to continue offering you sound advice and tips for navigating life as a nurse both here and elsewhere.  You will still find me contributing to American Nurse Today, AWHONN, and The Gypsy Nurse.  I am always open to suggestions from any fellow bloggers out there as well.  Anyone know of a good next step in the online nursing community? Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!



Beyond the Bedside: 4 Ways to Spread Compassion this Season

Mighty NurseChristmas is a time when even the stingiest can feel a sense of compassion and good will.  As nurses, the core of our work stems from the word compassion. It is our fuel. For most, our compassion meters run high during the season. However, sometimes we can run low and find ourselves stricken with compassion fatigue.  We give our undivided time to our patients as well as family and friends during this season which can be tiring in the end. So how do we spread compassion this season and remain balanced?  It’s simple. Follow these few steps. 

4 Ways to Spread Compassion this Season

Tips for the Nurse to Ease the Holiday Blues

cropped-img_46591.jpgWith the holidays fast approaching, it is hard not to feel a sense of magic in the air. The lights, the music, and the food give a sense of warmth this time of year. Unfortunately, anyone that works at the bedside full time has an obligatory holiday shift each year. While many become acclimated to this reality, there are those that could use a little cheering up. The following are just a few tips for making it through your holiday shift this year..

Tips for the Nurse to Ease the Holiday Blues

Student Nurse Series: Please Wash Your Hands

nursing-shortageMy previous posts have been advice and encouragement for you, the student. My hope was to inspire you to stay strong through school and see the reward that becoming a nurse can offer. You have many years of stability, security, and integrity ahead of you. The world is your oyster. You have the option to stay in your home town and see your career to retirement or you can travel the world one patient at a time. While we may meet again in future posts, I find no better way to sum up this series of posts with one final and most critical piece of advice. This time, it is more for the sake of your patients. Here goes. Please wash your hands….

Student Nurse Series: Please Wash Your Hands

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