Date of Graduation

Fall 12-7-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Healthcare Systems Leadership DNP

First Advisor

Dr. Amy Nichols

Second Advisor

Dr. KT Waxman


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2010) recommends that healthcare organizations make the “recruitment and retention of qualified nurses a priority”. The ability to comply with the recommendation is fraught with challenges. Nurses are required to care for patients across the age span with varying medical complexities. There are work related stressors which are inherent to the care of a more acutely ill patient population. The tenuousness produced by this type of environment can predispose the nurse to a stress induced phenomenon known as, Compassion Fatigue. The literature is abounding with information related to compassion fatigue among various nursing specialties. However, previous discussions have effectively disregarded this discussion in the context of medical-surgical nurses. The following is a description of a Compassion Fatigue project with an emphasis on the medical-surgical nurse. The project demonstrated a correlation between work-related stressors and compassion fatigue among medical-surgical nurses. It also revealed that medical-surgical nurses are challenged by numerous encounters precipitated by their hectic work environment. Many nurses have the fortitude to overcome environmental stressors, thereby, affording them a deep sense of satisfaction. Conversely, unsuccessful coping can lead to dissatisfaction and an exodus from the profession. The project shed light on the significance of understanding the prevalence of compassion fatigue and the need to be proactive. In response to the findings, an educational intervention was developed and implemented as a resource for the nurse to proactively attend to their own self care needs. The promotion of self care is a sound strategy in the reduction or prevention of compassion fatigue. It creates a positive benefit for the nurse and can ultimately accomplish the goal of the IOM (2010) to maintain a viable nursing workforce.

Included in

Nursing Commons