Essay on Compassion Fatigue

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Compassion Fatigue: Caring for the Caregiver
Kimberly Flowers
Grand Canyon University
Spirituality in Health Care
Patricia Mullen
March 24, 2012

Compassion Fatigue: Caring for the Caregiver Introduction
Compassion represents an “acknowledgement of another’s suffering and is accompanied by the expression of a desire to ease or end that suffering.” (Van der Cingal, 2009, p. 124) This is a fundamental characteristic usually found in health care workers and nurses especially. In one twelve hour shift, a nurse’s job can change from taking vitals and administering medications to performing life saving measures
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Physical rest, nutrition and exercise are some of these needs and if denied, the body will eventually become too exhausted to function properly. The most common symptoms of this are fatigue not relieved with sleep, insomnia and irritability. If left untreated, physical exhaustion can lead to physical ailments such as dizziness, colds, headaches, chronic pain, and digestive problems and even impaired functioning of other body systems. (Espeland, 2006, p. 180) Emotional Exhaustion
Similar to physical exhaustion, emotional exhaustion results from depletion of emotional resources and failure to restore one’s own emotional equilibrium. (Moore, 2009, p. 1) In today’s busy society the demands of life, job and family can be excessive and overwhelming. Combine these demands with the additional stressors of caring for another person or persons, increased demands of productivity with decreased personnel and the unrealistic expectations of one’s self or others and place all of this burden on one person, this would adequately describe the 21st century nurse. Nurses are continually engaged in emotional relationships with patients and their families which call upon the nurse to be in a constant supporting role. One reaches emotional exhaustion when this burden becomes too heavy to carry
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