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I think I can safely say that most first responders have a lot invested in their role. For many, their career as someone who saves lives, property, or upholds the law is an integral part of their sense of worth, purpose in life, and even a part of their identity; I know it was for me and it certainly still is the case for my partner. That is why self-care is essential; ensuring you are healthy and safe to fulfil your role is a vital part of professional practice and well-being.
After suffering from vicarious trauma as an ED nurse, I had to leave the profession. Now, I am in a front-line role again, and this time I want to make dead-certain that I don’t go through the same issues that I faced in my nursing career.
Every month, I complete a compassion/burnout/secondary trauma self-survey to track how I am going. No one makes me do this, it is just something that I am proactive about. Whilst our employers do put measures in place to protect our mental health, I personally don’t feel it is enough. It is for that reason that I take control of my own well-being and regularly check how I am travelling.
The screening tool is called the “PROQOL: Professional quality of life screening” tool and you can download it for free at this link:
Being a trauma survivor, I have found that I can’t always rely on or trust others to make sure I am ok. This is why I take responsibility for my health and well-being, and because I want to make sure that I can continue doing the job I love so much, as well as keeping myself mentally and physically well for my self, my family, and my friends. After I left nursing, I felt so low and depressed because nursing meant so much to me. I also felt let down by the system, all of which contributed to my PTSD symptoms. Taking a proactive stance helps me to feel that I at least have a little more control over my experiences!
If anyone else has any tools, I would love to hear about them? Also, I would love to know if you use the PROQOL and if you find it helpful?