Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctor of Nursing Practice Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice



First Advisor

Dr. Alice Swan


Doctor of Nursing Practice


Nursing is one of the most rewarding, but also one of the most difficult professions related to the toll it can take physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually on its members. Standards and expectations for nurses are high, as they should be, given the nature of the work and the manner in which nurses interact with their patients and communities. The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics for Nurses describes the values, virtues, and obligations of nursing practice in this way:

Nursing encompasses the protection, promotion, and restoration of health and well-being; the prevention of illness and injury; and the alleviation of suffering, in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations. All of this is reflected, in part, in nursing’s persisting commitment both to the welfare of the sick, injured, and vulnerable in society and to social justice. Nurses act to change those aspects of social structures that detract from health and well-being. (ANA, 2015, p. vii)

Both the profession of nursing and healthcare organizations are beginning to recognize and address the personal and professional cost of caring for others. It is a dialogue that is needed not only to protect the workforce, but to promote patient safety.

For individual nurses, the conversation represents recognition for deeper self-awareness and support in order to prevent and to heal from the effects of burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue. This process is challenging in light of the personal and daily expectations nurses encounter in practice and the calling nurses feel to their profession. The conversation carries with it the recognition of personal limits and the need to seek support in demanding, challenging work environments. It also recognizes, as Native American culture teaches, that “each time you heal someone you give away a piece of yourself until at some point, you will require healing” (Houck, 2014, p. 455).