Compassion Fatigue in Nurses Within Their First Year of Employment: Myth or Reality?
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Approximately 30% to 61% of first year nurses have intentions of leaving the nursing profession. With the projected need for nurses to increase by 22% by the year 2018, it is predicted there will be a nursing shortage three times larger than any nursing shortage in the past 60 years. Why are first year nurses leaving the nursing profession? The purpose of this research study was to examine whether compassion fatigue is prevalent in nurses within their first year of nursing. After performing a review of the literature previous researchers have established that compassion fatigue does exist among nurses, but to this researcher's knowledge no study has been conducted on first year nurses. The Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) scale, along with a researcher designed nurse demographic questionnaire, was used to survey 26 first year nurses. The ProQOL scale tested the subjects' likeliness for compassion satisfaction as well as their risks for burnout and secondary traumatic stress. Results indicated there was evidence of compassion fatigue developing within the first year of new nurses' employment. A Pearson correlation test was conducted showing there was a negative correlation between compassion satisfaction and burnout, and a positive correlation between secondary traumatic stress and burnout. Mann Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis statistic tests were also conducted and showed there was no significant difference between age, gender, education level, shift worked, and hospital unit among the subjects in the study. Understanding the onset of compassion fatigue in our newest nurses may prompt hospital administrators, nursing leaders and those employed within staff development to implement self-care programs for nursing staff, educational sessions to help nurses recognize signs and symptoms and to implement strategies to combat compassion fatigue. This insight may help reduce turnover and increase retention among our newest members of the nursing profession.