Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Robin Buccheri

Second Advisor

Sara Horton-Deutsch


Background: The second victim phenomenon is one in which nurses and other healthcare providers use dysfunctional mechanisms, such as anger, projection of blame, or drugs and/or alcohol to cope with serious mistakes in the absence of a healthier means for healing (Wu, 2000). This phenomenon can lead to healthcare professional absenteeism, leaving the job or leaving the profession altogether (Burlison, Quillivan, Scott, Johnson, & Hoffman, 2018). Following the release of an editorial by Dr. Wu (2000), organizational peer support programs have been developed to reduce this phenomenon. These types of peer support programs have been found to counter absenteeism and intentions to turnover (Burlison et al., 2018). Unfortunately, many health care professionals do not have access to these prevention programs due to a paucity of evidence supporting them. Purpose: The second victim phenomenon is not well known among many leaders in healthcare organizations. Further information on how to support the holistic well-being of nurses and other healthcare professionals is essential in increasingly complex health care systems. The main purpose of this manuscript is to provide evidence that supports the need for caring organizational support systems following serious adverse clinical events. Design: Relevant literature about the second victim phenomenon and transpersonal caring were compiled and reviewed. Findings: Recommendations are provided on key elements of programs to prevent the prevalence, symptoms, and impact of the second victim phenomenon on our healthcare professionals, our patients, and our healthcare system. Conclusion: To improve the holistic well-being of health care professionals following a serious adverse event, health care organizations must provide programs to promote their healing.

Included in

Nursing Commons