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Combating Compassion Fatigue: An Exemplar of an Approach to Nursing Renewal

Romano, Jean MSN, RN, NE-BC; Trotta, Rebecca PhD, RN; Rich, Victoria L. PhD, RN, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/NAQ.0b013e3182a2f9ff
Original Articles

Compassion fatigue is a phenomenon commonly experienced by nurses. The cumulative emotional burden of caring for critically ill patients and their families, coupled with the increasing complexity of the health care practice environment, significantly drives the experience of compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue can negatively impact nurses' physical and emotional well-being. If left unaddressed, compassion fatigue can lead to burnout among nurses. Burnout has been correlated to increased patient mortality, increased infection rates, and decreased patient satisfaction. In addition, it causes nurses to leave the nursing profession. Opportunities for nursing renewal, coupled with a leadership culture that values renewal practices, could combat the negative effects of compassion fatigue. A Center for Nursing Renewal was created at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to provide a variety of renewal opportunities for nurses. This center is supported by a nursing culture that recognizes the ill effects of compassion fatigue and promotes wellness and renewal practices among nurses.

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Correspondence: Jean Romano, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce St, Dulles 106, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (jean.romano@uphs.upenn.edu).

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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