Nurses Dealing With Compassion Fatigue Have Options

Nurses face many challenges on the job and deal with stress caused by a number of factors. Burnout and compassion fatigue existed long before the pandemic but have been exacerbated by the events of the past few years.

Compassion fatigue is defined as “the emotional, spiritual, and physical fatigue health care professionals experience due to constant use of empathy in caring for seriously ill or traumatized patients.” Up to 40% of registered nurses are experiencing compassion fatigue, causing many to reconsider their career choices.

To further explore ways that nurses can utilize their education and experiences into a career that doesn’t necessarily have to be patient-facing, we spoke with one of our associate regional managers, who also happents to be a former ICU nurse. She recently made the transition away from the bedside into recruiting and staffing nurses.

Brittney Lovell - Nurse RecruiterBrittney Lovell graduated from nursing school in 2016 and started her career on the floor in Neuro Med/Surg. She then worked in nuero ICU at a Level 1 trauma center and eventually decided to leave nursing.

“Nursing is hard, and I commend everybody who does it for ten years or more,” she explained. “And being at a Level 1 trauma center, we saw the worst of the worst, of the worst. Statistically, I would say 50% of my patients died, and even those that lived, their level of consciousness was not what it used to be after the injury. Just seeing all of that, and some other things, I decided to take a step back from nursing.”

Brittney’s story is probably familiar to many, although the details may differ. Whatever the reasoning behind their burnout and compassion fatigue, thousands of nurses and healthcare workers are wrestling with similar career decisions.

“Compassion fatigue is real, very real,” Brittney says. “It is something I wish more nurses talked about. We nurses sometimes try to mask really difficult situations with a sense of humor. We might jokingly say ‘Oh, I have compassion fatigue’ but I really wish more nurses would have a serious conversation about it.”

Brittney has been working for Supplemental Health Care as a recruiter for almost a year now. Her nursing background gives her insight into the various healthcare jobs she is recruiting for and provides her with an opportunity to help nurses find positions that fit into their career goals and lifestyle.

“Nursing is obviously a people profession, and my favorite part of this new job is getting to talk to so many different people from very different backgrounds. I enjoy building those relationships.”

Brittney went on to explain how her nursing skills have helped her succeed as a recruiter. “The communication skills that you develop as a nurse have been very important, like being able to relate to so many different people. As a nurse, especially in the ICU, you sometimes have to deliver hard news to a patient in a tactful way. That translates to what I am doing now except that I am delivering difficult news about a job opportunity.”

Another correlation between nursing and recruiting that stands out to Brittney is time management skills. “As a nurse, you have 20 million things going on constantly, and you have to be able to bounce around to each different thing and still get everything done. That’s something that I have found in recruiting.”

She goes on to explain, “For example, I could be in the middle of writing an email back to someone and I get a phone call about something urgent that needs to be taken care of. Then after that, I get pulled into a meeting. At the end of it, I have to regroup and pull my thoughts together to get back to that original message I was writing. Nursing definitely prepared me for those scenarios.”

Brittney’s message for other nurses struggling with their current career path is to be open to new opportunities and new possibilities. Stepping away from the bedside doesn’t have to be a total career change or even permanent. There are plenty of alternative jobs for nurses out there.

“It’s important to understand that if you are considering leaving nursing, it’s not as big of a jump as you think it would be. My advice is to be open if something comes up, and you can always renew your license and start practicing again. It’s not like you have to leave cold turkey and change to a whole new career.”

Brittney has enjoyed her time working as a recruiter so far. She points to the Culture of Caring at SHC as one of the reasons why her transition to recruiting has worked out so well.

“The culture is present throughout the company,” she explains. “I love how accessible and open people are, and there is even friendly competition. But at the end of the day, we want our team to succeed, and it has really become like a family.”

Supplemental Health Care supports our recruiters and nurses to thrive in their jobs and combat burnout and compassion fatigue. You can check out our partnership with Operation Happy Nurse to learn more about how we support our nurses’ mental health and wellness. If you’re interested in learning more about corporate or healthcare jobs, contact us today to learn more about our open opportunities!