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Avoiding Nurse Burnout Before It’s Too Late

While physician burnout has been generating a fair amount of buzz on the interwebs, let us not forget to address the all-to-common issue of nurse burnout.

Nursing is among the most rewarding careers in the world. But while it it is indeed brilliantly fulfilling, nursing is also one of the most stressful jobs an individual can undertake. It is a career that demands intense physical, emotional and mental dedication, which can frequently lead to exhaustion and eventual burnout. 

As educators, caretakers and communicators (to name a few), nurses are often overwhelmed with the drastic role variance they have to cycle between each day, according to USF Health. Additionally, nurses tend to work 10- to 12-hour shifts, frequently take on night shifts, and have to deal with reduced support within their facilities because of recent health care cutbacks. These different types of stressors not only take a toll on the quality of a nurse's’ life, but they have led to adverse patient outcomes in the past. Sarah Jonae-Ryan, professional nurse for 29 years and freelance writer, says that there are a variety of different circumstances that lead to nurse burnout. She is one of many who has not only seen nurse burnout, but has experienced it for herself. She says that if a nurse answers yes to any of the following questions that it may be time to take a step back and re-consider the bigger picture:

  • Do you find it difficult to get out of bed and get ready to go to work?
  • Are you having trouble sleeping or eating too much or too little?
  • Are you less energetic than you used to be?
  • Are you feeling cranky and having difficulty getting along with others, especially in the work environment?
  • Are you experiencing little aches and pains throughout your body that were not previously there?

Jonae-Ryan has overcome nurse burnout and says that the first step for nurses who are experiencing this type of frustration is identifying the primary stressor within their life. She recommends things like eating healthier, meditating, talking to immediate supervisors for a more accommodating schedules, and taking advantage of vacation time.

Jonae-Ryan advises healthcare professionals to prevent burnout by being fair to themselves. She says finding the perfect work-life balance is essential for peace of mind and a sustainable nursing career.

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