WASHINGTON, DC—Addressing feelings of compassion fatigue with a “Day of Rejuvenation” helped 90% of the urgent care center nurses at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center decrease stress levels while improving morale and thus care provided to patients, research presented at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 38th Annual Congress has found.

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Based on staff satisfaction and engagement surveys, compassion fatigue among oncology nurses was identified as an organizational priority. “Due to the large volume of 24,000 patient visits annually, the nurses expressed feelings of burnout, stress, dissatisfaction, and fatigue,” noted Janine M. Kennedy, RN, MA, OCN®, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, and colleagues.

At the cancer center, the Nursing Practice Model of Relationship Based Care is the foundation of care delivery, she stated. “In this model, the nursing staff is focused on providing exemplary patient and family centered care, while also trying to incorporate care of self.”

However, the staff reported that “due to the increasing acuity, high volume, and emotional attachment, they felt as though there was never enough time to care for self,” resulting in decreased productivity, absenteeism, and less empathy and compassion.

To address these feelings of compassion fatigue, the nursing leadership convened the Urgent Care Center Compassion Fatigue workgroup. Along with Integrative Medicine and the Nutrition Department, the workgroup developed a Day of Rejuvenation for all nursing staff. The goals were to provide an outlet for reducing stress, to educate staff on methods to refocus, and to allow free time during the shift to care for self.

During the day, the staff participated in massages, stress management classes, relaxation technique classes, chair yoga, and nutritious snacks while listening to soothing music—all away from their patient care assignments.

After the Day of Rejuvenation, the staff was asked to complete a survey addressing their initial concern and seeking their feedback from the day; 90% of participants reported that their levels of stress had decreased after attending the programs, thus improving morale and the care they provided to patients.

“The majority of staff would like to see these programs continued monthly and have articulated an appreciation of the nursing leadership and organization in addressing compassion fatigue,” Kennedy noted. “As the demands on oncology nurses increases, organizations need to balance increasing patient care needs while providing protected time for nurses to care for self.”