Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Document Type

Major Paper


School of Nursing




Compassion fatigue is estimated to affect 40% percent of the 2.9 million registered nurses in the United States. There exists a critical need to explore how nurses understand compassion fatigue, how they identify it in self and others, and what strategies they enact to lessen the eventual threats to health. With the current COVID pandemic, along with the high intensity nature of the intensive care unit (ICU), critical care nurses are vulnerable to the symptoms and side effects of compassion fatigue. This quality improvement project evaluated the impact of an educational session on compassion fatigue and self-care in relation to critical care nurses’ perceived levels of compassion fatigue. Pre education session and post educational session Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL-5) survey measuring perceived levels of compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress, were administered to a sample of critical care nurses in a community hospital in Massachusetts. The educational session was conducted via a virtual audio-enabled PowerPoint presentation. Pre and post education scores were assessed between time points to determine if the education was successful at decreasing perceived level of compassion fatigue. Post ProQOL scores presented a 6.76% increase in level compassion satisfaction, 3.28% decrease in level of burnout, and an 8.66% decrease in level of secondary traumatic stress. This project illustrates the potential for targeted education with critical care nurses as a vulnerable group who experience higher levels of compassion fatigue as a group. Strategies to reduce the effects of compassion fatigue have the potential to improve mental and emotional health essential for continual safe patient care with more positive outcomes in the critical care area.