The need to be compassionate all the time is leading nurses and midwives to exhaustion, new research has suggested.
Tiredness, low moods, withdrawal from friends and family and feeling unable to “switch off” after work are all symptoms of emotional exhaustion.
Researchers from the University of Bedfordshire surveyed 351 trainee nurses. Those who were required to show more compassion at work were significantly more likely to be stressed outside working hours.
However the researchers found that nurses with a healthier work-life balance tend to be supported properly at work.
The nurses were asked how much their job required them to empathise with people and express sympathy, as well as whether stress affects their personal lives.
Lead researcher Professor Gail Kinman told the Telegrah: “In order to retain your own health as a nurse you have to be able to switch off. What we need to do now is develop ways for nurses to find emotional boundaries between themselves and their patients.”
Professor Kinman said nurses could be better supported by schemes such as ‘peer coaching’ and ‘reflective supervision’, in which trainees are encouraged to share their problems with senior members of staff.