As a nurse, you witness the fear, pain and suffering of others every day. But when you get too immersed in the lives and trials of your patients, you can become a victim of “compassion fatigue.”
Use the checklist below to assess if you are suffering from this condition, then read the five strategies to help you or a coworker cope with compassion fatigue.
You can also download these two important resources:
Fletcher Compassion Fatigue Scoring Sheet (PDF)
Fletcher Compassion Fatigue Assessment (PDF)
- I feel estranged from my colleagues, my friends, my family, my patients.
- I have difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- I have outbursts of anger or irritability with little provocation.
- I startle easily.
- While working with a patient who was a victim, I’ve thought about violence against the perpetrator.
- I am a sensitive person.
- I have had flashbacks connected to my patients.
- I have had firsthand experience with traumatic events in my adult life.
- I have had firsthand experience with traumatic events in my childhood.
- I have thought that I need to “work through” a traumatic experience in my life.
- I have thought that I need more close friends.
- I have thought that there is no one to talk with about highly stressful experiences.
- I have concluded that I work too hard for my own good.
- I am frightened of things a patient has said or done to me.
- I experience troubling dreams similar to those of a patient of mine.
- I have experienced intrusive thoughts of interactions with especially difficult patients.
- I have suddenly and involuntarily recalled a frightening experience while working with a patient.
- I force myself to avoid certain thoughts or feelings that remind me of a frightening experience at work.
- I find myself avoiding certain activities or situations because they remind me of a frightening experience at work.
- I have gaps in my memory about frightening events at work.
- I am preoccupied with more than one patient.
- I am losing sleep over a patient’s traumatic experiences.
- I have thoughts that I might have been “infected” by the traumatic stress of my patients.
- I remind myself to be less concerned about the well-being of my patients.
- I have felt trapped by my work as a nurse.
- I have felt a sense of hopelessness associated with working with nurses.
- I have felt “on edge” about various things and I attribute this to working with certain patients.
- I have wished that I could avoid working with some patients.
- I have been in danger working with patients.
- I have felt that my patients dislike me personally.
- I have felt weak, tired and run-down as a result of my work as a nurse.
- I have felt depressed as a result of my work as a nurse.
- I am unsuccessful at separating my work from my personal life.
- I feel little compassion toward most of my coworkers.
- I feel I am working more for the money than for personal fulfillment.
- I find it difficult separating my personal life from my work life.
- I have a sense of worthlessness/disillusionment/resentment associated with my work.
- I have thoughts that I am a “failure” as a nurse.
- I have thoughts that I am not succeeding at achieving my life goals.
- I have to deal with “too many” bureaucratic, unimportant tasks in my work life.
Editor’s Note: If you are experiencing many of these thoughts, please consider being worked up for depression or anxiety or severe job unhappiness.