Last week I suggested we would compare Vital exhaustion, compassion fatigue and burnout. Now, I think it might be better to do the measurements first, so you can get into the solution and then come back to discussion. Compassion satisfaction is a sweet and happy place to be. Some of us live in that space a lot and for others it is fleeting. It is that sense of fulfillment and well-being. It is the positive feeling you experience as a result of knowing you did a good job. You have the sense that you make a difference in your work setting. You enjoy knowing you have a positive impact in the lives of those you care for. In fact, your compassion satisfaction may motivate you to continue your work.
On the other hand, you intuitively know if you are experiencing burnout, compassion fatigue, Vital exhaustion and compassion satisfaction. However, in our evidence-based world, you can measure your experience and your risk for these states which can be very useful to corroborate your felt sense.
So, why, how and what do we measure? Everything changes including compassion satisfaction. Many nurses become paralyzed by fear, shame and denial, tolerating experiences of burnout, compassion fatigue and Vital exhaustion for very long periods. This discomfort is stressful and impacts others- colleagues and those we care for. Having an objective reflection of your experience can help reduce shame and confusion and help with moving into the solution rather than staying in the problem.
For some nurses burnout starts in nursing school. When was your first experience of one of these states and what did you do about it? Are you now happy at work? The sooner you identify an unhappy situation, which might mean measuring your professional satisfaction, the sooner you can mitigate it.
My first experience was 2 years into my first job and my responses were typical- changing jobs (geographical solution) and getting more education. Those changes did not give me tools to heal or prevent the burnout, compassion fatigue and Vital exhaustion experiences which would come and go several times in my 40-year career. Now I have tools to prevent burnout and I use them because it makes a big difference in my happiness. Regardless of your position or status in the nursing world, measuring your professional satisfaction is informative, helpful and a form of self-care.
The PROQOL (Professional quality of life) measures Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, Secondary Traumatic Stress, Vicarious Tramatization, and Vicarious Transformation. “Professional quality of life is the quality you feel in relation to your work as a helper. Both the positive and negative aspects of doing your work influence your professional quality of life. Understanding the positive and negative aspects of helping those who experience trauma and suffering can improve your ability to help them and your ability to keep your own balance.”
We use the PROQOL as a measure in the Vitality In Progress: Healing and Preventing Burnout for Nurses prior to the program in the middle and again at the end as a measure for participants to track their progress.
It is free and is available to individuals and organizations.
Another measure that could be used is The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) which addresses three general scales:
- Emotional Exhaustion measures feelings of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one’s work.
- Depersonalization measures an unfeeling and impersonal response toward recipients of one’s service, care treatment, or instruction.
- Personal Accomplishment measures feelings of competence and successful achievement in one’s work.
Maslach and her colleague, Michael Leiter, defined the antithesis of burnout as engagement. Engagement is characterized by energy, involvement, and efficacy, the opposites of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.
Where are you on the continuums of compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, burnout, Vital exhaustion, engagement? Have you taken the PROQOL? It is free. Will you consider it? If you have taken it recently, what do your scores tell you? Do they match your felt experience of your professional life? When was the last time you did an inventory of the beautiful ways that you care for yourself? Even that measurement could be useful to increasing your compassion satisfaction. A few tweaks to your current habits could make a big difference in the joy and happiness you experience in your life.
Maybe you’d like to join our Self Care for Vitality – a free Virtual Connecting Weekly Call-in for Nurses. There is a short guided relaxation, followed by a short time for silence in community and optional sharing.
Wednesdays 6:30-7:00 pm EST Phone 712-432-3066 Pin 177444We are looking forward to your answers and comments to the above questions~~
With love, Padma