What can we do to confront nursing compassion fatigue?

Zeinab Faraj For Clay Today

CLAY COUNTY – Nurses across the United States play critical roles in providing care for patients and advocating for their rights. They are considered the heart of hospitals and clinics, and their responsibilities are often compared to those of a doctor. However, a new condition called nursing compassion fatigue is spreading as nurses face high patient-to-nurse ratios, increased stress levels and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nursing compassion fatigue, or burnout, is when a nurse becomes exhausted from constantly being overwhelmed or overworked. The condition causes nurses to neglect their health as they prioritize their patients and work. Nursing burnout can stem from long hours, too many patients or unique scenarios like the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, nurses experienced high levels of trauma and stress from the pandemic as hospitals were flooded with patients with an unknown virus. The effects of the pandemic are still felt today.

As one nurse, who would like to remain anonymous said, during the pandemic, there were “no secretaries, no one to draw blood, no one to help administer medications…being a nurse back then and nowadays means having multiple roles and always working for your patients and advocating [for them].”

Nursing is often a thankless job as most nurses feel unappreciated, furthering the effects of nursing compassion fatigue. Another nurse who chose to remain anonymous said, “We are not as valued as a doctor or surgeon. Most people believe we are easy to replace.”

However, this belief is not true, as there is more demand for nurses than ever. Most hospitals and clinics have shortages of nurses that they are desperate to fill. 

As nursing compassion fatigue continues to affect thousands of nurses, each community needs to acknowledge what they can do for these critical healthcare providers. More must be done to address this issue before it is too late. If you want to thank a nurse today, visit Advocates For Nurses on TikTok or Instagram.

But right now, a simple thank you goes a long way.

Zeinab Faraj is a senior at Fleming Island High.

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