A primary care approach to combatting compassion fatigue in oncology nurses increases nurses’ mental well-being and organizational skills, a team of oncology nurses reported during a poster presentation at the 49th Annual ONS Congress® in April 2024. Additionally, the intervention improves patient satisfaction with nursing interactions and care, they said.

For nearly a decade, the presenters’ cancer center “experienced an increased turnover rate that contributed to chronic understaffing and hiring of nurses inexperienced in oncology to fill the positions,” the speakers said. Although their institution offered tertiary care programs to support mental well-being, those approaches relied on nurses to request or self-initiate participation.

To better support and retain experienced and resilient oncology nurses, the presenters created and implemented a compassion fatigue program that focuses on resilience. They partnered with a professional resiliency training company that specializes in addressing burnout and compassion fatigue to deliver an evidence-based intervention to nurses at their institution who volunteered to participate.

On postintervention surveys, more than 80% of the nurses said the training was relevant and they could apply their learning in their practice. Nurses reported lack of time (33%) and a need for consistency (27%) as primary barriers to applying the training in their practice.

Nearly 30% of the nurses reported an increased sense of calmness and awareness of their feelings. Patients reported increased satisfaction with nurses listening to their concerns and improved overall trust and confidence in nursing staff.

“Compassion fatigue programs are necessary for keeping oncology nurses in the profession,” the speakers said. “Nurses who are resilient are more likely to be retained, and this correlates to patient safety, satisfaction, and continuity of care.”

Dive deeper into the critical conversation around compassion fatigue and burnout in oncology nursing on the Oncology Nursing Podcast Episode 187: The Critical Need for Well-Being and Resiliency and How to Practice, then learn about a specific resiliency program for oncology nurses on Episode 85: Nursing Resilience and Self-Care Aren’t Optional. Listen on your favorite podcast platform or using the players below.