Combat worker 'empathy fatigue'

With the economic downturn, more healthcare workers are staying at their organizations even though they are emotionally burned out, leading to what is known as "empathy fatigue," according to a researcher at University of California Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center. "Many professionals used to burn out and leave their jobs. Now they burn out and stay," said Eve Ekman, crisis counselor at San Francisco General Hospital.

The phenomenon of empathy fatigue, or compassion fatigue, is a coping mechanism in which caregivers distance themselves from the chronic emotional strain that often comes with the job. For example, a charge nurse might keep the mother of a gunshot victim from seeing her son because the emergency room is too busy. Ekman calls for clinical empathy rather than emotional distancing to alleviate job burnout. News brief