The Advanced Clinical Practice Fellowship (ACPF) program has provided me with a unique opportunity to learn about program design and development processes. This fellowship was completed full time in the fall and winter of 2016-2017 under the guidance and supervision of my mentoring team from Kingston General Hospital, (Joanna Noonan, Manager of Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness;Sarah DaCosta, Manager of the Mental Health Program; and Dr. Joan Almost, Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Nursing Graduate Programs at Queen’s University). Through this second fellowship experience, I have learned how I can contribute to have a more positive impact on the mental wellbeing of all of those who provide and support patient care. The topic I decided to focus on for this RNAO/AMS Phoenix Fellowship was the implementation phase of program development of an educational program on Compassion Fatigue awareness and resiliency. It is important to acknowledge that Compassion Fatigue can affect not only health care professionals, but also allied health and family caregivers, therefore this educational program’s future plan is meant for all individuals in an acute care setting. However, this fellowship focussed on a program pilot which was implemented within the Mental Health Program over a six week period. Participants encouraged to attend were front line nurses, management, and psychiatry. This project was proposed as a research study which included the completion of a formal ethics review through Queen’s University. Specific validated pre and post session measuring tools were used to help determine if this educational program about awareness and resiliency to Compassion Fatigue and Burnout can minimize Compassion Fatigue and/or reduce burnout. No formal program or study in Canada of this kind has ever been completed as of yet. The mission of The Compassion Fatigue Educational Program focuses on four areas:
1. raising awareness,
2. teaching strategies for resilience to Compassion Fatigue,
3. providing the necessary emotional supports to individuals when needed, and,
4. minimizing and/or reducing the incidence of Compassion Fatigue
Overall, this ACPF program has been the most rewarding learning experience of my career. I have developed a variety of new skill sets that I can apply that will have a positive impact on myself, others and my organization. This fellowship has allowed me to lay the foundation for a sustainable compassion fatigue program that is now ready for the evaluation phase.
I wanted to thank the RNAO and the AMS Pheonix for this amazing opportunity to learn, flourish and grow in my nursing career, as well as Kingston General Hospital and my mentoring team who were incredibly supportive right from the onset. This being the best experience of my entire career, I strongly encourage anyone who has a learning interest to explore the ACPF program.