Tuesday, March 17, 2009

compassion fatigue

I was "on-call" all weekend. And unlike previous hospitals where I was employed, at my current workplace, we don't get compensation time or recovery time after working a 24-hour or 48-hour shift. See, they don't "require" that we stay in the hospital when we are on-call. We are only "required" to respond to all urgent calls within a a certain amount of time. Since it's possible that we could end up spending the entire night in our own beds, getting a full-night's sleep, we are expected to work our next shift.

My weekend wasn't hard. Until Monday morning, when my pager went off at 1:30 am, 4:30 am, and again at 7:00 am. I didn't get much rest. And I was expected to work. If we "really need" the time to recover, we can take it. But then we are often grilled on whether we "really need" it. And always being in a defensive posture is draining in and of itself.

Yeah, I am bitter. And I am on-call again in two days. So I have anticipatory bitterness, too.

I am also beginning to recognize symptoms of compassion fatigue. Which causes me to question my vocation - even more than I have already been questioning. Sure, I can still provide care, as required by my job description. And I can surprise myself in providing good care, as evidenced by the tokens of gratitude I receive from patients and family members. But I lack joy. And I lack hope. And I lack a genuine desire to be with people in pain and to help ease their suffering. These are kind of essential to my work.

So what do I do? Honestly, I am too tired to even think of doing anything else, much less look for or apply for jobs. So I am stuck.

I realize that this insane, god-awful week will soon be over. And I trust that soon I'll be seeing life through a different lens. But right now, I am exhausted. I am tired. And I am burnt-out.

Question: why is it that so much of our training tells us to practice self-care, to prevent this type of burn-out and fatigues, yet no institution (church/hospital/school) make self-care so dang hard? I have just about given up all hope in having any institution (especially church) care for me, but do they have to make it so difficult for me to care for myself?

No comments:

Post a Comment