One of the great challenges in caregiving is how to care without giving up your ability to control the deep emotions that always accompany patient care activities. For oncology nurses, caregiving carries with it the near certainty that a portion of the patients being shepherded through the healthcare system will not get well. Lay on top of this an ever-growing patient load and increasingly complex healthcare system, and it is not surprising that these stress points have a cumulative effect, compassion fatigue. Oncology nurse navigators practice in an environment that is sometimes isolated from the traditional support structures available within the hospital and/or oncology setting. Navigators address patient barriers to care that are complex in nature and many times unable to be easily resolved. The nontraditional oncology nursing role combined with the stress of providing patient care increases the likelihood for nurse navigators to experience compassion fatigue. In this chapter, readers will learn more about the roots of compassion fatigue, its symptoms, and strategies to identify it early on so that solutions outlined here can be applied proactively by the individual navigator and their leaders.
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