Date of Award/Publication


Document Type

DNP Project Manuscript

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice

First Supervisor

Tara Sacco

Second Supervisor

John Kirchgessner


Background: Mental health professionals caring for the veteran population are at increased risk for compassion fatigue, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress based on the nature of their work. While mental health professionals may experience positive outcomes from providing compassionate care to veterans, compassion fatigue can lead to instability of the workforce. Methods: A pilot employee wellness program was implemented over a 9-week period, offering a different wellness module weekly during the employee lunch hour. Demographic data were collected pre-program, and mental health employees were surveyed pre- and post-program using an intent to stay scale and the Professional Quality of Life Scale version 5 (ProQOL-5) to measure compassion satisfaction, burn out, and secondary traumatic stress. Findings: Pre-program participants (N = 42) reported significant differences in intent to stay in their current position for the next year compared to the post-program group (N = 15). Pre-program participants reported no intent to leave their current position, apply for internal or external positions, or retire in the following year. However, post-program participants reported intent to leave their current positions, apply to internal or external positions, or retire. Pre- and post-program compassion satisfaction scores increased and burnout and secondary traumatic stress scores decreased; these scores were not significantly different between groups. Conclusions/ Application to Practice: While no significant differences were found between ProQOL-5 subscale scores, the change in participants’ scores may indicate some change, potentially as a result of the intervention. This pilot program offered a creative solution to organizations with limited resources to combat occupation-related compassion fatigue.


This is the author's accepted version of the article. The final version was published in Workplace Health & Safety, December 24, 2020:

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