One of the more common negative stereotypes surrounding nurses is that we are cold and heartless. And while there are some nurses who do fit this stereotype, the vast majority of us care deeply about our patients. I have personally cared for patients who I have thought about even while not at work. But what happens when that sense of caring goes beyond the job and begins to negatively affect you? You may suffer from what is called compassion fatigue.
What is compassion fatigue?
Compassion fatigue is the stress one feels while caring for patients who are very ill physically and/or emotionally. This differs from caregiver role strain, as compassion fatigue is reserved for healthcare professionals caring for sick patients rather than family members caring for a sick relative. However, it is possible for someone to suffer from both conditions simultaneously.
By Jennifer Budd, RN