Nursing is considered one of the most satisfying, secure, in-demand, and overall best healthcare jobs. And it is certainly not for the faint-hearted as it involves life, death, and everything in between.
Global research has shown that the rate of burnout in nurses ranges from 30% to 80%.
The burnout syndrome (BOS) in nurses takes place when they go through emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
What Causes Burnout in Nurses?
1. Long Hours of Work
Various studies indicate that working a 12-hour shift affects both nurses and patients. Hospitals with higher ratios of nurses working longer shifts directly correlated with a lower level of patient satisfaction. A large percentage of patients reported that nurses sometimes or never communicated with them; their pain was not well controlled, and sometimes they didn't even receive immediate help when needed. Nurses working consistently for 12-hour shifts are at risk for burnout and suffer from distress, heart diseases, and poor work-life integration.
2. Excess Workload
Along with taking care of the patients, nurses have to perform various other duties, charting, follow-up care, phone triage, and other activities. And as the institution increases the level of technology, nurses' expectation to provide a higher level of care increases. This, in turn, increases their level of frustration, as they are unable to complete their job according to their expectation.
3. Poor Work Environment
Globally, the nursing profession suffers from a shortage of trained manpower and a poor work environment, which happens to be the core reason for burnout in nurses. An American study shows that around 30%–50% of all new RNs elect to leave clinical positions because of hazardous working conditions.
4. Deaths and Illness
Taking care of patients and seeing them pass away is an obvious part of the nursing job. But nurses rarely become used to death, because of which it affects them deeply.
Studies show that nurses who are surrounded by higher death's face higher stress levels, which eventually adds up and causes burnout among nurses of all specialties.
What are the Symptoms of Burnout in Nurses?
People deal with stress in different ways. But the problem with nurse burnout is that most of the time, nurses are not even aware of how exhausted they are. Below are common symptoms of burnout:
Dissatisfaction in Personal Achievements
Lack of cooperation
Cynicism about Nursing and Patients
Poor Job Performance
Ways to Avoid Burnout in Nurses
1. Maintain Boundaries Between Work and Personal Life
From the moment your shift ends, try to make a conscious effort to leave all your thoughts, pain, and stress at your workplace. And make a point to be present and mindful while spending time with family, friends and doing activities that you enjoy doing.
2. Have a strong Nurse Network
Having a solid relationship inside the workplace and at home can play a crucial role in battling nurse burnout. Also, if you have someone to talk to about emotional distress including the personal and professional pressures it could help you deal with high-stress situations. This can give them a feeling of being present and prepared for their next shift.
3. Pursue nursing in areas you are passionate about
The best part about the nursing profession is that there are numerous different specialties to find your area of interest.
Like pediatrics, surgery, schools, or long-term care, could be your thing. You would be much more satisfied if you work in the areas you're interested in.
4. Have a healthy sleep schedule
Nurses should fit in at least eight hours of sleep each day or night depending on their schedule.
This will help them improve their work performance, increase their focus, concentration, and be more alert and motivated.
5. Prioritize Physical and Mental Health
Nurses should include a 30 min workout in a day, including walks during breaks at work, and schedule a fixed time for a workout after shifts. The workout will not only rejuvenate their minds but also give them a mental break from work.
Along with physical health, even mental health matters a lot. If you feel you're at the point of burnout, then consider calling in for sick. As feeling sick does not necessarily mean a physical symptom, even a mental burnout should constitute a sick day.
6. Search for workplaces with lower nurse-to-patient ratios
To save yourself from future hassle, look for institutions in your area that offer lower nurse-to-patient ratios. This is because hospitals with very high patient-to-nurse ratios are more likely to experience job-related burnout and experience dissatisfaction in work than nurses with fewer patients.
7. Look for Counseling and Therapy Programs
Nurses should cash in on therapy or counseling services offered by their institution. You can also find similar types of services outside work.
Also, try talking to the Human Resource department they may allocate for employee assistance or be able to direct you to a group therapy program.