UW Combined Fund Drive

November 22, 2021

Addressing Compassion Fatigue

It is now year two of our war with SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19. For some of us, trying to keep some semblance of daily life we once had, the past where we didn’t need to wear masks, seems like another life.

We once amassed in groups without a care in the world, and only sanitized once in a while during flu season. Masking and hyperawareness of germs have almost become normalized after months of mask mandates. 

On the other side of COVID survival are those trying to help and heal the afflicted. Even before the pandemic, hospitals faced a healthcare worker shortage in addition to rising complaints about workplace violence 

In addition to the burgeoning weight of COVID, healthcare workers who must take the brunt of the staff shortage are exposed to patients more than anyone else, are now suffering an upsurge of exhaustion caused by little vacation time and compassion fatigue.

Even with the CDC’s attempts to mitigate the staffing shortages, it simply is not enough to combat the fact that those who refuse to vaccinate are adding to healthcare workers’ burdens 

In fact, compassion fatigue is not a new phenomenon, nor is it unique only to frontline healthcare workers. For example, the UW Resilience Lab has developed new programming to address the mental health issues resulting from the pandemic for UW students

The UW Resilience Lab provides students, staff, and instructors with training and tools to build their self-awareness, respond to stress more effectively, and cultivate compassion.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the act of compassion and empathy is very costly to the emotional and mental health of the medical workers who are exposed to distressing and traumatic situations regularly. Normally, the remedy would be temporary separation from the situation, to rest, but with the national shortage of healthcare workers, getting time off is challenging.  

How you can help

There are many ways we can help our healthcare workers. One big way is to observe health guidelines by wearing masks, socially distance and washing our hands often. Another way to help is to make a sign to let them know what they do is appreciated. Most importantly, we should not forget the sacrifice, hard work, and remarkable character of our healthcare workers who continue to endure and rise to aid and heal the public.  

Read: How you can help healthcare workers around the world during the coronavirus pandemic

Consider making a one-time contribution or setting up payroll deduction to one of our CFD member organizations working to support frontline healthcare workers: 

UW Counseling Center Support Fund (charity code 1480836): providing mental health counseling, outreach, prevention programming, and crisis intervention for enrolled students at no financial charge.

Project Hope (charity code 0316050): We operate globally, working side-by-side with health care workers and their communities, addressing the greatest public health challenges enabling people to live their best lives.

UW School of Medicine (charity code 0463099): The UW School of Medicine is improving the health of the public by advancing medical knowledge, providing primary and specialty medical care to citizens of the region, and preparing tomorrow’s scientists, and health professionals.

UW Medical Center Health Information Resource Center (charity code 1479811): Provides support for the UWMC Health Information Resource Center.

Contributed by UWCFD Campaign Assistant Camille Nagasawa
Camille is a UW graduate who double-majored in Japanese and Asian Language and Culture. Her hobbies and passion include Japanese traditional tea ceremony and culture.