Front-line healthcare workers such as emergency department nurses, trauma nurses, and other nurses working within intensive care services are exposed to significant trauma on the job as they care for their critically wounded and dying patients. While trauma cannot be removed from the job descriptions of such staff members, individuals and their facilities can work together to try and ensure traumatic events do not have significant, lasting effects on the mental well-being of these nurses. Critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) after traumatic events in the workplace has been cited as a relatively inexpensive way to decrease the impact of negative psychological consequences such as secondary traumatic stress (STS), compassion fatigue, burnout, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on these nurses so they can continue providing high-quality care in the midst of tragedy (Healy & Tyrell, 2011; Healy & Tyrell, 2013). Additionally, CISD holds the potential to decrease attrition in nursing staff over time (Healy & Tyrell, 2013), and should be considered by administrators looking to decrease facility and departmental costs spent on hiring and training fresh staff in the event of high turnover rates. Although nurses are not always able to engage in formalized debriefs from time to time due to high acuity within their departments, critical, ongoing patient needs, or low staffing, they still appreciate the presence of such a program in their workplace (Copeland & Liska, 2016; Spencer et al., 2019). The program participants for this benchmark project include emergency/trauma nurses (and critical care nurses, where staffed) within rural and urban facilities in Bryan and Navasota, Texas. The aim of this project is to answer the following PICOT question: In emergency and critical care nurses (P), how does debriefing (I) compared to not debriefing (C) affect the development of STS and compassion fatigue (O) after exposure to a traumatic event in the workplace (T)?

Date of publication

Spring 4-19-2020

Document Type

MSN Capstone Project



Persistent identifier



Masters of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track

Included in

Nursing Commons