Nursing is one of the most noble professions. Nursing is considered one of the most trusted and ethical professions by the people of America. Nurses take care of the sick, the frightened and the injured.
The profession of nursing tends to attract naturally compassionate and emphatic people. However, these beautiful qualities may leave nursing professionals susceptible to what we call nursing burnout.
Nurse burnout is a real thing. Many nurses are affected by it, which in turn impacts their performance as well as their well being.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is defined as a state of physical, mental or emotional exhaustion combined with doubts about the value of your work and your competence (“Know the signs of job burnout”, 2018).
When it comes to the nursing profession, burnout can happen as a result of a traumatic event. However, there are discreet signs of distress in nurses that usually go unnoticed while these healthcare professionals are busy taking care of other people.
- Are you a nursing professional?
- Do you often feel anxious, exhausted and physically ill?
- Do you sometimes feel like your body is disconnected from your brain?
- Do you often dread the thought of going to work?
- If yes, then may be experiencing what is known as a burn out.
Burnout is common among professionals who have high-stress jobs, and nursing is one of them (“Identify Stress and Vicarious, Secondary, Indirect Trauma in Nurses” (n.d.).
It makes one emotionally, physically and mentally drained, which is commonly caused by an overload of stress. Many nurses may also face burnout from the pressure that they are facing from their personal lives.
All of these factors combine and take a toll on nurses and affect their work and health.
But, burnout is not a sign of weakness. Even the most selfless and passionate nurses often experience it. If you also feel that you are facing this issue, there are some tips that can help you out.
But before we go on to these tips, let us first understand why burnout among nurses is serious and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Burnout among Nurses – The Need to Address the Issue
Nurses are the most vulnerable to burnout of all the healthcare providers (Rickard, 2016). They are usually caught between delivering good patient care and the administrative policies of their healthcare organization.
They spend all their efforts in trying to balance these two areas, but their self care is jeopardized along the way.
The negative effects of burnout go far beyond the caregivers themselves. Increased attrition follow when things get out of hand.
This also leads to a high turnover rate in nurses, which is a grave issue for the entire healthcare system, including the patients. This also hits the bottom line of the healthcare system as recruiting and training new nurses is expensive.
Nurse burnout is bad news for everyone in the healthcare system, especially for the nurses. If you or someone you know is showing the signs on nurse burnout, then here are some tips to help you out.
1.Consult your doctor ASAP
The most important thing is to listen to your body. Usually our bodies give us signals when things are out of alignment. When you recognize the symptoms, consult your doctor ASAP.
Do not be scared, it is best to nip it in bud, before your whole body collapses.
Maybe you need a break to re-align your body and brain. Your doctor will guide you accordingly.
2. Get Your Life Organized
First things first, you need to manage your stress, and being organized is the first thing you need to do.
Dealing with anxiety and burnout becomes easier when you keep track of everything that is happening around you. Set priorities for each day.
This will help you formulate better plans, which will allow you to accomplish various tasks efficiently.
2. Identify the Source of Stress
Is there any specific cause of stress? Identifying the cause of stress can help you decide a way to deal with it. Once you have identified the cause of stress that is leading to burnout in you, plan accordingly to mitigate and address the issue.
Not sure how to do it? An easy way to know what the source of stress may be is to track your job responsibilities for some days and jot down what you feel after completing each task.
Keep track of your feelings for each task, identify the source of stress and work on making things better.
3. Find Work-Life Balance
If you feel that you are burning out by doing the same things over and over again and feel like losing your passion, you can consider reducing your workload (“6 Tips for Avoiding Nurse Burnout” (n.d.).
Another great way to deal with nurse burnout is to take a vacation. Delegate your tasks if you can and limit your interaction with the people who drain you of all your energy.
This can be done both at work and at home. Try to create a balance between your personal and professional life.
Take care of your body and mind. Many studies show that engaging in exercises like yoga, meditation, running, cardio, strength training, improves our mental and physical health. Some workplaces have these facilities, others have some sort of collaboration with
4. Don’t Overwork Yourself
Too much work leads to stress. Choosing your workplace carefully can also help you reduce your burnout. When looking for new job opportunities, search for workplaces that have a lower nurse-to-patient ratio.
Nurses that attend more patients are more likely to suffer from burnout as compared to the ones that must attend fewer patients.
Nurses with more patients are also more dissatisfied with their job as compared to those who have fewer patients. With a workplace with less nurse-to-patient ratio, you will be able to give ample time to each patient rather than feeling robotic and stressed.
This does not necessarily mean less stress though, Intensive care unit nurses usually have lower nurse-patient ratio, but their jobs are incredibly demanding.
Be open about the burn you are experiencing
Stress and burnout are not taboos. Many nurses suffer from it, but do not report it. If you feel like you are under stress and that it is affecting your health and well being while also taking a toll on your performance, then don’t hesitate to talk about it with your friends, family, colleagues or anyone you find trustworthy.
If you keep your emotions inside, it may lead to feelings of hatred towards your profession, which will have a negative impact on your life and your profession.
While nurses are naturally wired to put the interest of patients first, ignoring your own health and well being can interfere with your ability to perform better at work.
Burnout among nurses is common. If you feel that you have reached your limit, talk to someone and find a way out of this issue. You will only be able to take care of your patients better when you start taking care of yourself.
- 6 Tips for Avoiding Nurse Burnout. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://lippincottsolutions.lww.com/blog.entry.html/2018/01/17/6_tips_for_avoiding-DPdc.html
- Identify Stress and Vicarious, Secondary, Indirect Trauma in Nurses. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ausmed.com/cpd/articles/stress-trauma-nurses/
- Know the signs of job burnout. (2018, November 21). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642
- Rickard, C. L. (2016). STRETCHED Not Broken: A Caregiver’s Toolbox For Reducing and Managing Stress. Well YOUniversity Publications