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The meaning of compassion fatigue to student nurses: an interpretive phenomenological study

Jack, KF (2017) The meaning of compassion fatigue to student nurses: an interpretive phenomenological study. Journal of Compassionate Healthcare, 4. ISSN 2053-2393

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Abstract

Background: Compassion fatigue is a form of occupational stress which occurs when individuals are exposed to suffering and trauma on an ongoing basis. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of compassion fatigue among student nurses following their first clinical placement in a UK health care setting during 2015. Methods: The aim of this study was to explore students’ thoughts and feelings about compassion fatigue using reflective poems as a source of data. An interpretive phenomenological approach was taken using a purposeful sampling strategy which aimed to explore in depth meaning of the concept as experienced by the students. Results: From this study it is clear that students experience compassion fatigue and this has a psychological effect on their wellbeing and ability to learn in the clinical practice setting. Reflective poetry writing enabled articulation of feelings which were at times negative and linked to the student’s status as a novice nurse. Conclusions: Students experience compassion fatigue and educators need to find ways to provide support in both clinical and university settings. Positive practices such as shared reflection and the use of creative teaching methods might be beneficial, to support exploration of feelings, build resilience and effective ways of coping.

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