Code Compassion: A caring fatigue reduction intervention

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Nurse retention, particularly with newly graduated nurses, is under scrutiny in healthcare organizations, with approximately 20% of new nurses leaving their positions within the first year.1 A recent trend in published research suggests that younger generation and novice nurses are more likely to experience burnout and compassion fatigue, compared with their more seasoned and earlier generation colleagues.2-4
Burnout is the response to chronic physiologic and emotional stressors experienced by many professionals.5 In the nursing profession, when burnout is compounded with secondary trauma, nurses may experience compassion fatigue.6Secondary trauma occurs when the nurse caring for a patient and family who experience a trauma feels his or her own pressure, anxiety, stress, and other emotions associated with the traumatic event.6 Conversely, nurses experience compassion satisfaction, or the pleasure and gratitude they derive through patient interactions and their roles as nurses, which balances their professional quality of life. (See Figure 1.)6,7
Although we typically think of compassion fatigue as an issue affecting more experienced, or earlier generation nurses, recent findings suggest a need to intervene early to successfully prevent burnout. To this end, one academic medical center created a multifaceted, evidence-based intervention project called Code Compassion to reduce compassion fatigue in acute care clinical nurses.
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