Type of Document Thesis Author Chase, Michelle Marie Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-11082005-154529 Title Emergency Department Nurses' Lived Experience with Compassion Fatigue Degree Master of Science Department Nursing, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Sandra Faria Committee Chair Charles Figley Committee Member Denise Tucker Committee Member Keywords
- Emergency Nursing
- Michelle Chase
- Compassion Fatigue
- Charles Figley
- Work-Related Stress
- Jean Watson
- Hans Selye
Date of Defense 2005-10-26 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe profession of nursing is in the midst of a crisis brought on by a nursing shortage. Many are choosing to leave the profession of nursing coupled with fewer numbers choosing nursing as a profession. As a result, nurses are challenged with increased acuity of patient care in the face of short staffing. Compassion fatigue can result from these highly stressful situations. Much has been written in the healthcare literature about the negative effects of compassion fatigue and work-related stress on healthcare workers. However, the population of Emergency Department nurses has been virtually ignored.
This inquiry utilized a qualitative approach with a phenomenological design in order to capture and describe the lived experience of Emergency Department nurses with compassion fatigue and work-related stress. The study revealed that the work-related stressors in which Emergency Department nurses encounter are numerous as a result of the hectic and chaotic environment in which they work. The main work stressors included the large number and continuous influx of patients, the increased patient acuity, and the lack of skilled nursing staff. Those nurses included in the study were resourceful in coping with work-related stressors by relying on support systems, using internal coping measures, or simply trying to persevere or overcome through firm resolve. When these nurses were successful in coping with their work stress, they often felt a sense of accomplishment in terms of the patient care delivered. If the encounters with work stress were especially negative, many often felt abandoned and exhausted. However, by witnessing improvements in patient status or by feeling that their care giving efforts were effective in relieving the pain and suffering of those in their care, these nurses were often able to overcome their negative feelings caused by the chaotic work environment.
Generally speaking, the encounters with work stress had a negative impact on the nursesí ability to provide care. They described feeling angry and displaying uncaring attitudes toward the patients. However, many described feeling a sense of accomplishment if they had been successful in coping with the work stress or if they felt that the nursing care provided had a positive impact on patient outcomes.
This study provided a glimpse into the experience of Emergency Department nurses with compassion fatigue and work-related stress. However, gaps within the literature still exist. Other areas need to be investigated including the prevalence and risk of compassion fatigue as well as the comparison of larger groups of Emergency Department nursesí experiences with compassion fatigue.
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