Mission Critical: Nursing Leadership Support for Compassion to Sustain Staff Well-being

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Abstract

Compassion, the foundation of Nursing, is a source of both healing for those who suffer and of purpose and meaning for those who seek to heal others. Increasingly, however, the fast pace and volume of care and documentation requirements diminish time with patients and families and hinder the enactment of compassion. These issues and other aspects of the work environment decrease the satisfaction and well-being of professional caregivers and are contributing to a rising tide of burnout. Research suggests that employee engagement emerges from their satisfaction and well-being; however, it is difficult for an individual to engage when she or he feels depleted and unsupported. Nursing leaders and managers can play a significant role in support of compassionate practices for staff and improvement of the work environment and staff well-being. Compassion practices that recognize employees for the caring they show to patients and each other, and that provide the support needed to sustain their caring and compassion, are associated with significantly better patient ratings of their care experiences in hospitals and ambulatory settings. This article describes an example of a compassion practice, Schwartz Rounds®, a program that has been implemented internationally to enhance staff caring and compassion, teamwork, and psychological well-being. Schwartz Rounds have been included as a component of organizational initiatives to enhance staff well-being and patient experience, and as an individual program. Nurse leaders and managers who wish to engage their staff can do so by supporting their compassion and well-being.

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