Wednesday, May 2, 2012
We are not Angels
"I feel drained, like I have nothing more to give." This can be felt by nurses in many areas, but especially those caring for patients suffering with pain , the terminally ill, or those with traumas. Compassion Fatigue can overcome a caregiver with little warning, unlike burnout which builds slowly. There has been a lot of research done on this topic recently. I have offered links to websites offering support and training as well as a link to Professional Quality of Life's assessment tool so nurses can check their emotional vital signs every now and then.
Don't keep it bottled up! Debriefing, sharing with other staff members, and feeling supported by your co-workers and managers makes a huge impact on recovering. Staff members should have an opportunity to express their feelings in a nonjudgmental atmosphere. Many don't confide to co-workers because they don't want to appear weak, unable to perform, or incompetent. C.F. often attacks the best nurses, those who set high standards in their practice and show compassion and empathy to their patients.
Nurses must practice self-care and find coping strategies to keep balance. Sometimes the simple act of sitting quietly with controlled breathing will do wonders. Don't ignore your health, and seek professional help when necessary. Remember, we are not angels, nor supernatural. We are humans with physical, spiritual and emotional limitations. Being compassionate is a quality needed for our role as caregivers, but it also makes us vulnerable.