Viewpoint: Self-care a must for nurses to provide compassionate care to patients

Erica Carbajal - Print  | 

Providing compassionate patient care can come at a personal cost for nurses — compassion fatigue — but it can be prevented, according to an op-ed by Sharon Willey, DNP, RN, published in Ohio and Indiana's KPC News

Dr. Willey is an associate nursing professor at Trine University in Angola, Ind.

"Compassion fatigue has been described as an emotional cost of caring for traumatized individuals or bearing witness to others' trauma," Dr. Willey wrote. "It can happen when nurses provide prolonged care to individuals who have experienced traumatic events." 

To combat this, nurses need to prioritize and protect their own mental and physical well-being by practicing self-care, according to Dr. Willey. A healthy work/life balance and self-care tactics are vital resources that serve as a barrier to compassion fatigue. Nurses should prioritize time for "activities that bring peace, calm and rest," and recognize the behavioral, emotional and physical warning signs of compassion fatigue. 

Supporting and encouraging nurses to address their own limitations means they will be better suited to continue providing holistic and compassionate care, concluded Dr. Willey. 

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