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Nurses are learning how to handle an occupational hazard they weren't prepared for: compassion fatigue.


A program offered at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, is one of a growing number available to combat the constant assault on nurses' psyches. Stress-reduction workshops, discussions, support groups, and staff retreats focus on the emotional aspects of caregiving.


"Compassion fatigue is a combination of secondary traumatic stress from witnessing the suffering of others and burnout. It can lead nurses to feel sadness and despair that impair their health and well-being. Compassion fatigue has been linked to decreased productivity, more sick days, and higher turnover among cancer-care providers. High turnover and the increased workload can result in higher death rates and reduced patient safety."


"The course, open to all staffers at the hospital from physicians to housekeepers, includes a checklist of symptoms, and offers 'antidotes' to compassion fatigue, such as creating a support network. Participants are taught the importance of focusing on 'intentionality'-the caring intention that brought them to the healthcare field in the first place-while accepting their own limits in doing only the best they can on any given day"


Jamie Bugg, a 32-year-old nurse at the oncology center, states, "There is a daily toll when you see so many sad aspects of things and people at the end of life. We need better ways of coping than internalizing everything."-


For a biblical Christian perspective on compassion fatigue, see JCN's continuing education article "Rx for Compassion Fatigue" by Fran McHolm, Volume 23/4, pp. 12-19 (2.5 contact hours) at



Hagar is an international organization serving women and children who are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation. Established in Cambodia in 1994, Hagar launched programming in both Afghanistan and Vietnam in 2009.


Hagar has been serving an increasing proportion of human trafficking victims. In 2004, the U.S. State Department named Hagar founder Pierre Tami as one of its six international heroes in the struggle against the modern-day slave trade.


To help women overcome their traumatic pasts and achieve healing, Hagar provides long-term, individualized services including counseling, literacy education, job readiness skills, and vocational training. Most women experience their first formal work experience in a Hagar business.


Hagar serves children who have been abandoned, born with disabilities, or are abused. Each child has been cast out, and each child needs time to heal. Services include residential care, trauma counseling, and education.


"Although each individual's journey is different, each woman and child walks through three critical steps: recovery, building resilience, and reintegration. In 2011, Hagar helped over 1,000 women and children move toward healing. The journey is long and the road is challenging. However, the women and children served learn that they are not hidden, they are not forgotten, and they are no longer silent."-



The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) released its 2010 Census Report and Salary Report. Data reveal that the profession continues to grow and be professionally and personally rewarding.


According to the 2010 report, the number of practicing physician assistants (PAs) reached 83,466, a 100% increase in the last decade. Female PAs outnumber male counterparts by nearly 20,000. Thirty percent of PAs practice in primary care, making it the largest specialty for PAs.


Nearly 30% of PAs practice in single-specialty physician practices, and 40% have been in their current primary specialty for at least 6 years. PAs enjoy their work; 66% indicate they are satisfied or mostly satisfied with their career.


"PAs are the only health care providers educated and credentialed with a primary care focus, providing a strong foundation for any specialty in which they may choose to practice," said AAPA President Robert Wooten, PA-C. "The information from AAPA's salary and census reports clearly confirm what PAs and the healthcare world have known for years: The PA profession is growing rapidly, and it is key to expanding access to quality health care for millions of Americans."


Although the majority of PAs are in clinical practice, 5,079 PAs work alone or concurrently in healthcare education, administration, research, and public health-indicating the growing role PAs play in influencing the healthcare field.


Download the full reports at Academy of Physician Assistants, Press Release, 9/8/2011.



Mental Health First Aid teaches people how to help someone with the signs and symptoms of mental illness or in a mental health crisis. Nearly 30,000 people have been trained through a network of 1,300 certified instructors in the United States. Mental Health First Aid is offered in the form of an interactive 12-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the United States and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. Those who take the 12-hour course to certify as Mental Health First Aiders learn a five-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care. See for more information.-Mental Health First Aid, Press Release, 9/16/2011.



Anonpunitive system for reporting seems to increase reports of medical errors and improve patient care. Daniel R. Neuspiel and colleagues from the Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, "used a team-based approach to promote patient safety, and described errors following implementation of a nonpunitive error-reporting system. The multidisciplinary team detected and analyzed ambulatory medical errors in an academic general pediatric practice with approximately 26,000 annual visits[horizontal ellipsis]and suggested changes to prevent harm to patients."


According to a study published online November 21, 2011, in Pediatrics, the Levine team found only five reports were made in the previous year compared to 216 medical errors identified over 30 months during the project. Reports primarily originated from nurses, physicians, and midlevel providers. The most frequently reported error was misfiled or erroneously entered patient information. This error, along with delayed or not performed laboratory tests, errors in medication prescriptions or dispensing, vaccine errors, patients not being given requested appointments or referrals, and delays in office care accounted for 76% of the reports.


The team concluded that "a voluntary, nonpunitive, multidisciplinary team approach was effective in improving error reporting, analyzing reported errors, and implementing interventions with the aim of reducing patient harm in an outpatient pediatric practice."-



Medical Patient Modesty is a nonprofit organization that promotes better patient modesty and helps healthcare workers become more sensitive to the importance of patient modesty. Medical Patient Modesty desires to help patients and their spouses who wish have same gender care for certain procedures and/or surgeries get their wishes. They encourage patients to stand up for their rights to patient modesty and speak up when they feel their modesty has been violated such as unnecessary exposure, removing underwear when it's not needed, or waking up after surgery with a urinary catheter without prior patient teaching.


Online topics include tips for nurses, students/residents, physicians, hospital and clinic settings, working with sexual abuse victims, and problems with patient gowns.-



"Typically, when we say we 'hope' for something, we're saying we're not sure it is going to happen but we want it to happen."


"But biblical hope is not like that. Biblical hope is much more than wishful thinking. Hewbrews 11:1 says that 'Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see' (NIV, emphasis added). There is nothing uncertain about biblical hope. It speaks of something that is sure but not yet a reality that we can see. Biblical hope is certain but not yet realized. We haven't experienced it yet, but there is no question that it will happen. Hope is like a memory of the future-a God-secured, God-infused, God-glorifying future."


"The hope that God provides for you and me as we face an uncertain and perhaps difficult future is not based on wishful thinking that the future will be as good as we want it to be. It is the confident assurance that we can entrust our lives to the One who holds the future no matter what happens. Are you willing to leave your wishful thinking and grab on to God-confident hope, believing your eternal future will be better than you imagine?"-Excerpted from The One Year Book of Hope, p. 154, Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.


-PulseBeats compiled by Cathy Walker, JCN Associate Editor