Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Projects

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Degree Program

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Degree Track

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

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Month Degree Awarded



vicarious traumatization, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress


Gabrielle P Abelard, DNP, PMHNP, PMHCNS-BC, RN, BS


Mental health providers working with individuals with trauma and stress are at increased risk for vicarious trauma (VT) and compassion fatigue.

A quality improvement project was implemented with six mental health providers engaged in weekly peer support group sessions lead by the DNP student over a six week timeframe. Topics discussed included education on vicarious trauma, client case vignettes, and mindfulness around the treatment of vicarious trauma. Professional quality of life (ProQOL) and secondary traumatic stress (STSS) assessments were completed prior to the start of the peer group and at the completion of the sixth group.

Analysis of post group assessment results demonstrated a strong agreement by 67% that peer support is necessary. Additional findings from the peer support groups concluded that connection and the sense of feeling less alone was beneficial, resulting in more clinic camaraderie and individual confidence with patient care. The mental health providers also felt supported by their leadership as a result of their participation.

The results of this quality improvement project demonstrate that peer support groups may reduce provider burnout and vicarious trauma, and increase compassion satisfaction.

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