For her Doctor of Nursing Practice project, upcoming DNP graduate Natasha Best, WHNP, tackled a topic familiar for many nurses – compassion fatigue.
Her “Targeting Military Providers to Self-Identify and Take Action Against Compassion Fatigue: Can Mindfulness Practice Be the Answer?” asked a handful of nurse practitioners on active duty for the U.S. Air Force to use a mobile app that encouraged them to explore mindfulness as a way to combat compassion fatigue and its associated problems of burnout and secondary traumatic stress. They took surveys before and after four weeks of use to measure markers of compassion fatigue.
“I used the ProQOL (Professional Quality of Life) scale to measure the impact of taking care of others on their rates of burnout and secondary traumatic stress both before the mindfulness practice and after,” she says. “All of them reported a reduction in stressors and an increase in levels of self-care.”
Because Best’s project was mobile-based, these busy nurses could work on mindfulness without attending a long class or paying a fee, which are both deterrents to participation.
Best said compassion fatigue can impact any health care provider, but with nursing comprising 50-75 percent of the workforce, it is particularly a problem for the field.
“This is especially true for nurse practitioners who have all the same responsibilities as other nurses but must go through the added stress of being credentialed providers,” she says.
When she graduates in May, Best will be the first in her family to receive a doctorate degree. From there she will join the faculty at the Uniformed Services University’s Daniel K. Inouye School of Nursing in Bethesda, Maryland, as lead faculty for women’s health where she will be in the position to directly impact the clinical and leadership skills of her peers. In the military, it is expected she will teach, advise, research and practice in this new role.
Best is an active-duty, U.S. Air Force officer and board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner. She was awarded a full Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) scholarship to pursue DNP at the School. Over 12 years of service with both the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and Air Force Nurse Corps, she held a variety of leadership positions. She led a 100-person group, managed three clinical areas, provided coverage for the facility’s chief nurse and represented the medical operations squadron at base-level meeting.
Best was born in the US Virgin Island of St. Thomas. Her father was in the U.S. Navy, and the family traveled and lived all over the world. Best’s husband, Gregory, is also a nurse practitioner and a veteran of the U.S. Army, and they have two children, Khloe and Karlton.