Compassion Fatigue in the Emergency Department

Student: Nicole Campbell*
Mentor: Eileen Yost
Major: Nursing 

Emergency Room nurses work in a fast-paced challenging environment.  The constant activity, often paired with extensive patient trauma, can have a detrimental effect on how nurses are able to show empathy and nurture their patients. The tension and constant stress predisposes them to “Compassion Fatigue”.  Compassion fatigue is an emotional, physical, and spiritual exhaustion related to witnessing and absorbing the sufferings of others. Compassion fatigue, also known as secondary traumatic stress, develops from the physical and emotional stress of caring for suffering or traumatized individuals for an extended period of time.  Nurses, in comparison to other medical professions, are especially prone to compassion fatigue because of the nature of their job, The constant weight of these experiences can leave nurses feeling apathetic and unable to nurture. The design of this project is to provide education and resources to those nurses who are at risk for compassion fatigue. Implementation of this project includes a teaching tool identifying the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue and available resources to highlight measures for self-care in order to reduce the risk of emotional detachment.

*Honors Senior