The newsLINK Group - Compassion Fatigue

Editorial Library Category: Medical | Pediatrics for Members Topics: Compassion Fatigue Title: Compassion Fatigue Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: People who work in professions where the people they serve are in stressful situations are at an increased risk for a relatively new phenomenon called compassion fatigue. Simply put, someone with compassion fatigue is someone who is essentially tired of caring. Editorial: Compassion Fatigue 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 People who work in professions where the people they serve are in stressful situations are at an increased risk for a relatively new phenomenon called compassion fatigue. Simply put, someone with compassion fatigue is someone who is essentially tired of caring. More formally, compassion fatigue is a stress disorder defined as "deep physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion that can result from working day-to-day in a caregiving environment." An emergency-room nurse coined the term in 1992 while researching burnout in her department, but it has been generalized since then to every helping profession. Recent research suggests that physicians are among the most heavily affected. Even worse, compassion fatigue among pediatricians is typically higher than it is in other specialties. The medical profession has tremendous physical and emotional demands. As a result, physicians are naturally predisposed to compassion fatigue. Decades ago, physicians shared a connection with their patients that gave them the replenishment they needed to cope with the stressors of practicing medicine. Today, however, physicians are often overworked and are not able to spend much additional time with patients. They have to be ever-mindful of the clock, and there is little possibility during a ten-minute office visit of enjoying the connection that is natural between any two people who have reason to bond because of deeply personal shared experiences. The distance between physicians and patients is increased by the need for keeping the relationship professional and making sure boundaries stay firmly in place. One of the consequences of managed care is that physicians are expected to see more patients, do more paperwork, and negotiate more contracts. At the same time, they have less autonomy than ever before. Add to that the pressure they feel to live up to their own high standards, and it's no wonder many physicians are overwhelmed to the point of breaking. It is difficult to find hard data on compassion fatigue, but one survey found that 54 percent of office-based physicians had experienced a time when they felt they no longer had any compassion left to give, even after a restful weekend. Compassion fatigue is hard on the physician and also on the workplace. It causes decreased productivity, more sick days, and higher turnover. All physicians carry a heavy burden professionally. Regardless of specialty, studies have shown that a third of all practicing physicians worldwide have experienced physician burnout on any given day. But exactly how heavy is the burden for pediatricians? The best anyone can do is to collect data about the subject, but the results are inevitably out of date by the time they have been compiled. The Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report for 2015 lists pediatric physician burnout at 44 percent. Unfortunately, it’s going to get worse as time goes on. Significant chronic health problems in children are increasing, medical care in the U.S. is undergoing enormous changes as baby-boom physicians retire, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is forcing changes to medical insurance and medical practice. For those who do decide to become physicians and to limit their practice to the pediatric population, there is a price tag for this empathetic choice that consists of more than paying for all the costs associated with medical school, enormous as those often are both in terms of dollars and the sheer number of hours required over a period of several years. Being around people who are sick or dying means being around people who are often in pain and, equally often, overwhelmed at least some of the time by their circumstances. For pediatricians, their responsibility in caring for children is a particularly tender one because few situations are more heartrending than providing medical care to a young child in desperate need. Lack of time is the biggest problem for those who are suffering from compassion fatigue. Many physicians try to compensate by doing several things at once, such as by eating lunch while dictating chart notes and returning telephone calls. To make more time, they tend to eliminate the very things that would help revitalize them: regular exercise, interests outside of medicine, relaxed meals, time with family

RkJQdWJsaXNoZXIy NjAyOTE=