Module 4 summary
Exposure to grief and trauma within an ICU is ongoing, but the effects are often invisible and not discussed. A culture of suppressing the natural and common pressures of ICU often serves to protect you but can, over time, have negative consequences. Although sometimes uncomfortable, it’s important for you to discover new ways to manage the day-to-day demands of functioning at the threshold between life and death. You can start by:
- Understanding where you are vulnerable and how this might be impacting your interactions with patients and families and, consequently, your professional abilities. Some clues might be over-identifying with a family, feeling unrealistically guilty or responsible for an outcome, or experiencing symptoms of burnout.
- Understanding the impact that grief and trauma has on you. If you can’t see its impact on you, it’s likely be hard to recognize it in others.
The ability to disconnect from your work is an important part of finding a good work-life balance; however, it is not healthy to completely ignore unpleasant experiences. Finding ways to meaningfully engage with the stresses of your work can help protect you over the long term as you develop new ways to cope and can also replenish your motivation for ICU work, adding to your satisfaction and sense of fulfillment.