Chapter 2: Where are you vulnerable?

Introduction

 

“Ten years ago, the implicit policy in ICU was to keep things to yourself and say, ‘It is just part of the job’. Now it seems more acceptable to be vulnerable. Because of the burnout and staff distress, we are more attuned to the pressures of the work”. - ICU Physician

Introduction

How you define “being well” is unique to you. You will likely have some indications in yourself if you’re struggling emotionally at work. If you are unaware or are avoiding the impact of vicarious trauma, your ability to care for patients, families, and yourself will be diminished. Awareness is key to developing strategies that work for you.

In this chapter we will examine various situations that can arise while you are working in ICU that can expose you to greater risk of experiencing vicarious trauma. You will also be introduced to some common responses to vicarious trauma as well as some characteristics, triggers and questions that will help you to identify your own susceptibility to vicarious trauma.