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    Posted March 4, 2014 by
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    Dangerous Trend Threatens Compassionate Care

    Vidette Todaro-Franceschi illuminates the devastating power of apathy in her book “Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Nursing”.

    Vidette knows that nursing means more than just treating illness in others. She learned a valuable lesson when she had her third child by emergency C-section during her final week of nursing clinicals.

    “It's really mindful awareness,” Todaro-Franceschi said. “You can't take care of anybody else if you don't take care of yourself.”

    Todaro-Franceschi, now a nurse educator at the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, encourages nurses and other caregivers to adopt an “oxygen mask mentality”. In “Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Nursing”, she encourages caregivers to “put the mask on their own face first,” to be at their best for those who need them most.

    Compassion Fatigue is a phenomenon that most caregivers will deal with at some point in their career. it results from a chaotic work environment and from constant contact with human trauma and suffering. In scholarly studies, it has also been called “secondary traumatic stress”. A person with compassion fatigue may feel helpless, isolated and without purpose.

    Some things just aren’t taught in nursing school. Todaro-Franceschi says that during their education, nurses aren’t always told just how important they are. She encourages caregivers to speak up against practices that are unsafe or don’t work. Her point is that everyone has a right to be moral and everyone has a voice. A solution, Vidette suggests, is to remember that the care a nurse gives is for the patients, not for the physicians, the hospitals or the health care system.

    Another way that Todaro-Franceschi’s book tackles compassion fatigue is the ART model.
    A stands for Awareness. Be mindfully aware of your feelings, the present situation, and the reasons you may be feeling the way you do. R stands for Recognizing Situations and taking purposeful action from them. T stands for Turning Outward. This is perhaps the most important point, Todaro-Franceschi explains, because if we let things bottle up we become toxic in our thoughts, and that creates an unhealthy environment for all.

    “You have to remain confident in your purpose,” she said. “You can always choose to do something.”

    Health care professionals aren’t the only people who deal with compassion fatigue. Today, 25 percent of American families take care of someone over 50. Many people find themselves caring for a child, when suddenly they must also provide care for an elderly loved one. For those who don’t have the benefit of a nursing education, Todaro-Franceschi suggests seeking the help of support groups, bereavement groups, services offered by health insurance and the excellent care provided by volunteers from houses of worship, no matter what your creed.

    “Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Nursing” makes a universal point across all professions, not just medical care professionals. The common thread between nursing and other careers is that there is an ethical decision to care for yourself. People should honor themselves by doing what they love to do. Why? Quite simply, we are best at the things we love. This is true for any career, and Vidette Todaro-Franceschi’s message speaks to all service people, especially women.

    “Women are juggling so many things these days,” she said. “We throw a lot of things up in the air, and sometimes we get hit in the head.”

    To her readers, Todaro-Franceschi points out that there are unique burdens and challenges to conquer. She encourages care professionals to be aware of how the smallest actions can create a butterfly effect in the work environment. Be mindfully aware and act intentionally, especially in the face of hardship. Use your voice when things aren’t right, and most importantly, she says, always remain connected to your purpose.
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