Nurse burnout is common.
As a second career RN with 7 years of experience as a med/surg, telemetry, emergency room and resource nurse I have struggled tremendously with nurse burnout. In fact, I often wonder how long I can continue working as a nurse when I often feel so spent. The caregiver burden is real.
Nurse burnout is often described as the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion of nurses. Causes for nurse burnout include working arduous 12 hour shifts, working in high stress environments, dealing with sickness and death and constantly having to put the needs of others before one’s own.
Like most nurses, I am very passionate about my profession. It is a privilege and an honor to advocate for and serve my patients during some of the most difficult points of their lives. But there has to be a better way to help nurses find a better balance between patient care and self-care.
The nurse burnout problem is not going away.
Left unchecked, nurse burnout can lead to exhaustion, physical injuries, and even depression. Furthermore, disengagement caused by nurse burnout can negatively impact patient care, increase the risk of medical errors and lower overall patient satisfaction.
In addition, nurse health must be taken more seriously. Too many nurses are on their way to becoming patients themselves due to overwork.
Nursing burnout: administration can help.
Hospital administration can help.
Here are a few ideas that hospitals should consider to help nurses create more balance and achieve some self care during work hours.
1. Create a meditative space for nurses away from patients and visitors
Caregiver burden is an issue for nurses. It is not uncommon for hospitals to have a space for spiritual prayer or meditation for patients and their families. However, nurses should also be offered a meditative space to clear their heads, and have a quiet moment to themselves. This would help nurses return to their work environments with renewed energy and focus to give better patient care.
2. Offer yoga and meditation classes
Offering yoga and meditation classes during the nurse’s lunch breaks would be beneficial. Studies show that yoga and meditation can greatly improve quality of life for nurses by reducing stress levels. In turn, nurses are able to give better patient care.
A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only 8 weeks of yoga the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and reduced mental stress.
Yoga at work could also help many nurses manage the chronic back pain they have developed as a result of nursing. An evidenced based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%. A 30 minute gentle yoga class during a nurse’s lunch break could help nurses manage this issue. Yoga stretching not only increases flexibility, but also increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain.
3. Make sure nurses get adequate breaks
Working for 6, 8 or even 12 hours without eating or sitting would make anyone become resentful after a while. Patient loads can often feel so overwhelming that sometimes nurses will work right through a break without even realizing it. Exhaustion from not eating or drinking enough water and being on your feet for grueling 12 hour shifts will eventually lead to nursing burnout.
4. Recognize nurses for their hard work
This should be a given, but for some reason it isn’t in many facilities. A “thank you” goes a long way. It is very much appreciated by nurses who work extraordinarily hard to keep patients healthy and safe.
Too many hospitals put little to no effort into helping nurses celebrate for nurses week every year. This sends a very strong message to nurses that management does not care about the hard work and dedication they put into caring for their patients.
5. Involve management in nurse bullying and cliques
Unfortunately, too many facilities allow bullying in their workplace. According to a 2017 survey by RN network, 45% of nurses have been verbally harassed or bullied by other nurses at work. Some forms of nurse bullying are obvious. However, many times the bullying is much more subtle, such as a nurse talking down to another nurse in front of a patient.
Building a supportive working environment is important to the health and well-being of nurses. Bullying should never be considered acceptable behavior and hospital management should be more involved in helping to prevent it.
Here they are: the best holiday gifts for pregnant nurses! These gifts are perfect for both baby showers and holiday gifts. We all know that nurses are amazing caregivers by nature. Why not celebrate with a gift the reflects all of her many talents? Give your pregnant nurse mama friend something that reflects both motherhood and her dedication towards helping others as a nurse.
Clothing For The Pregnant Nurse
The saying is true: when a nurse becomes a mom, literally nothing scares her any more. By then, you have seen everything imaginable and then some. That’s just one of the reasons that nursing is such a great career for mothers.
The nurse mom is going to need something cozy and comfortable to wear while spending time with her new bundle of joy. These great gifts provide comfort while also reminding the nurse mom that she is capable of so many great things.
Coffee Or Tea Mugs
Once a nurse becomes a mother, sleep becomes even more scarce. In fact, it’s a little like working the day shift and the night shift , every single day! There is a very good chance that she will be drinking more coffee than ever before. These gifts will not only help her enjoy a warm beverage, but are also be a reminder of the incredible courage that she possesses.
Children’s books are a thoughtful gift for any expecting mother. These books can help children understand what mom does at work all day. There is nothing better than opening communication with a child by sharing their mother’s experiences helping humankind.
Nurse Mom Gear For Work
Many nurse moms eventually go back to work after maternity leave ends. It can be a challenging time for mothers who are concerned with being gone from their babies for 12 hour shifts. These gifts are a reminder that nurse moms have many jobs, both in the workplace and at home.
Practical Gifts For The Pregnant Nurse
Here is how to help the pregnant nurse get more sleep once she brings her baby home! Nurses are used to working crazy shift schedules and not getting as much sleep as they should. But once a baby comes along, sleep becomes the most valuable commodity there is. Help the nurse mom get the maximum amount of sleep possible with these thoughtful gifts.
Nurse moms are pretty incredible humans.
Being a nurse or a mom is hard work in and of itself. Add the two together and you have one incredibly hard-working, compassionate, multitasking superhero with skills that can save lives.
This holiday season why not give gifts that recognize both talents? The one that is raising children to be strong, capable adults and the one selflessly helping total strangers. After all, there is a fair chance that many nurse moms are not being appreciated or recognized for the dedication and hard work they put in, day after day.
The motherhood/nurse combination is a challenging balance. Next time you run into a nurse mom who looks a little tired, know there is a good chance she hasn’t slept in a week. And give her a high-five.
We hope you enjoy you holiday season and spend lots of quality time with your loved ones!
10 Fun Holiday Nurse Mom Gifts
Any other nurse mom gifts you would add to this list? Leave a comment below.
Hello Mother Nurse Love friends!
I was recently interviewed on ‘Your Next Shift’, the most innovative internet show that helps nurses thrive in their careers. I have been equal parts excited and nervous to finally get to listen to the episode. And I am happy to say that it was a pretty great show. What an amazing experience! Collaborating with other nurse entrepreneurs is such a treat.
My podcast interview can be found here: https://elizabethscala.com/episode170/
In the podcast, I discussed:
- How continuing to learn can keep you from becoming stagnant;
- What routine practices can help you stay grounded in chaotic times;
- And why you should never let fear hold you back from what your want!
I’d love for you to listen in – and even better – let me know what you think by leaving a review on the show http://bit.ly/YNSiTunes.
Again, the link to listen in can be found here: https://elizabethscala.com/episode170/
In 2015 I became a nurse blogger. This venture was born out of my frustration with burnout as a registered nurse and my desire to create a more flexible work life balance.
For clarity, my niche (or at least the niche I am striving to create) is: “nurse mom lifestyle blogger with an emphasis on self-care and wellness.” My goal has always been to write about things that interest me in regards to nurse lifestyle and living a healthier, more purposeful life (with a little mom stuff thrown in).
I have been chipping away on my nurse blogging journey for about a year, and my (self-proclaimed) title has evolved a bit. I’m sure it will continue to change as I work to find my “voice.”
To explain how I became a nurse blogger, I have to take you back in time a bit…
Once upon a time I studied journalism.
Way, way back in the day, before I ever even considered becoming a registered nurse, I was a striving college student at California State University, Chico. As a journalism major with a minor in women’s studies, I wrote for our student newspaper, The Orion, and I loved it. Each week I met with other writers to discuss ideas and topics that were going to write about that week. I enjoyed the teamwork and even though I felt way in over my head a lot of the time I absolutely loved the challenge.
Each week I met new and interesting people I would have otherwise crossed paths with. I interviewed athletes, a magician, doctors from the student health center, professors, and lots and lots of students. One time I interviewed a women who made and sold her own essential oils and she gave me a few samples to take home with me. My 21-year-old brain was fascinated with the people I met.
The internet was in its earlier stages and many people still read the newspaper in print form. So, each Thursday I looked forward to walking on campus and picking up a copy of The Orion to find my name listed above my article.
A bad internship altered my career path.
I loved journalism. But my emphasis was in public relations, which I disliked immensely.
One summer break, I did a 3 month internship at a celebrity public relations firm in Los Angeles. I worked as an assistant to the the president of the firm. He had me ghost writing about how he was like Abraham Lincoln. If that sounds weird, it is because it was. I hated it. I felt used.
At the end of my 3-month internship, I left Los Angeles feeling like I wanted go in a completely different direction. As I drove back up to Chico to complete my senior year, I considered new career options.
As graduation etched closer, I also started wondering how I was going to survive financially out in the world. The thought of paying my own way in the world and paying off my student loans filled me with worry.
I went from inspired writer to salesperson.
After graduation I excepted a position selling medical equipment to hospital operating rooms. I thought it was best to follow the path that I thought lead to faster money. Frankly, it did.
Soon I became enveloped in the business of medical equipment sales. And unfortunately I didn’t write again for another 9 years.
Medical device sales is an extremely competitive and stressful industry. But I continued to work hard. In fact, I was actually very good at my job. I consistently exceeded my yearly quotas. As a result I made more money every year, which made it harder and harder to move into other more clinical roles.
I wanted to grow clinically and help my patients directly.
Those who know me, know that I’m not even the “salesy” type. However, I did enjoy talking about medical equipment that could improve the quality of life for our patients or even be life-saving in some circumstances. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I really wanted was to be an actual healthcare professional who worked with patients directly.
(On reflection, I am so am grateful for my time in medical sales and I want to go back to work on the business side of healthcare at some point. My experiences have given me a much different perspective than many of my nurse peers. Working in the medical sales industry gave me valuable business and communication skills. I met a lot of great friends with whom I still have close relationships with. My organizational and time management skills are much more fine-tuned and I learned how to be a professional in the workplace. I just think of myself as being a little more well-rounded now!)
Just for fun I toyed around with so many career ideas.
I took an amazing photography class in Venice (I’ll be a professional photographer! Yay!). I love practicing yoga so I thought becoming an instructor would be great fit (I’ll become the next big yoga guru!). I I even considered becoming a professional dog walker at one point and started writing a business plan! (Dogs are awesome, what can I say?).
After years of thinking about my professional future (and having several near mental breakdowns about it) I jokingly told my husband that maybe I should go back to nursing school. He responded with something like “you can do anything you want, but please do something because you might lose your mind!”
So, I did. And I have been working as a nurse at a major teaching facility for the last 6 years.
I went back to college for a second time.
After three years of nursing school I graduated with a bachelors of science in nursing and I had a whole new journey ahead of me. I began my career specializing on a neuroscience and stroke unit and earned certifications as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse. In 2017, I began a new phase in my nursing career as an emergency room RN.
I also complemented my practice by becoming an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist. My intention was to help treat my patients with a more holistic approach using yoga and in-bed movements, guided meditation, Reiki, and essential oils. (I didn’t know at the time, but these were topics that I would write about frequently as a nurse blogger!).
An itch to write came back again.
A few years into my nursing career I had an urge to write again. I missed the creatively I had when writing back in my early college days. In addition, I wanted to create a more flexible career path for myself now that I am a busy mom with two great kiddos.
I also really do have a passion for nursing. I love that I help others for a living and I enjoy the mental stimulation I get at work during my 12 hour shifts. Becoming a nurse has even helped me deal with the craziness of motherhood in some ways because it helps me distinguish things that I should be concerned with from things that are not a big deal. (I have my time on a neuro science floor and as an ER nurse to thank for that!)
Becoming a nurse blogger was a logical next step. I am having so much fun learning how to make and manage a website. However, since I am already a busy ER nurse with two small babies I am very limited on time. I only have 5-6 hours a week to spend on the blog. But as my kids grow older and go to school the time will be there. Until then, I will just keep chipping away at it after the kids go to bed in the evenings.
A nursing practice can take many forms.
As I grow older (and hopefully wiser!) I am discovering that their are so many paths that nurses can take. The sky really is the limit as long as you work hard and are open to continually learning new skills.
My goal is to create a career for myself were I can combine my journalism degree with my nursing knowledge and motherly experience. This is the first “career” I have ever had where I didn’t have to fill out an extensive application and interview for the position. For the very first time, I am warming to the idea of being my OWN boss. And I really like it!
Never in a million years would my 21-year-old college-newspaper-writing- self would have guessed that I would be a nurse blogger. But every experience I have had up until now has been an important stepping stone to this place. And I have goosebumps just thinking about what I can make happen next. Stay tuned for more…
Many nurses struggle with finding a work life balance. With increasingly demanding 12-hour shifts, its tough to stay healthy and sane when you are constantly going mile a minute. In time you may become overwhelmed and unsatisfied with your nursing career and your personal life.
Nurse burnout is real. The journey towards a satisfying work life balance as a nurse is within your control and will only be attainable if you make it a priority.
Consider doing a little soul-searching. Take a moment to sit quietly with yourself and pinpoint exactly what you need to simplify your life. Here are a few things to consider on your journey towards a better work life balance as a nurse, and ultimately and happier, healthier life!
What are your priorities?
Take inventory of both your nursing life and personal life. Is it possible you may be juggling too many balls in the air? What do you envision your life to be like in 5 years?
Sit down and write a 1, 3 and 5 year plan. Make specific goals. You simply cannot create a satisfying work-life balance without fine tuning your personal and work goals. Be brutally honest. Are you making major life decisions based on what you want to do or what you feel like you should do?
Many people (ahem, nurses!) are inherent caregivers who often give more to others before themselves. Now is a good time to think about how you will care for yourself first. Your happiness and success is your responsibility. Start by prioritizing what is most important to you!
Manage your stress.
You have to manage your stress to achieve a work/life balance. This is a non negotiable!
Here are two helpful ways to manage stress: #1) get moving with some type of physical activity (may I suggest yoga?) and/or #2) meditate (or just take a little time to chill out by yourself).
The benefits of exercise and mediation on physical and mental health are well documented in literature. For example, The Mayo Clinic has stated that “yoga may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate” among many other benefits (my yoga practice has been a life saver for me!).
In addition, a study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only 8 weeks of yoga the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a major reduction in perceived mental pressure. Just imagine how much better YOU could feel as a nurse who commits to a regular yoga practice.
Note: It doesn’t have to be yoga (although yoga has remarkably changed my life for the better over the past ten years). Exercise can come in any form you want it to: running, hiking, swimming, pole jumping, dancing in your living room…. The best kind of exercise is the kind that you actually do!
Create more flexibility.
In addition to the (literal) flexibility I get from yoga, I have also found flexibility within my workplace and at home.
12 hour shift schedules are already rigid enough. To find a work life balance that works for you, consider other alternative scheduling options available in your workplace.
As a nurse and a new mom I found that becoming a per diem nurse allowed me to create a better work/life balance for myself.
As a per diem nurse, I am literally employed “by the day.” Hospitals need the flexibility of per diem nurses so they can manage daily staffing needs in the hospital. There are many pros and cons to being a per diem nurse and it is the only way I am able to effectively be a working mom at this time.Here is another way to create flexibility in your life: Try squeezing your workouts in early in the morning before your family is awake. Sure, you will be tired, but you will also feel incredible for the rest of the day! (I have been practicing hot yoga at 5:30 AM twice a week before my tribe wakes up and it is helping me function so much better).
Think outside of the box.
Working 12 hour hospital shifts at the beginning of your career is an excellent way to gain clinical expertise and build a solid career base. But it is not the only career path within the nursing universe. There are many unique and alternative avenues a nurse can take!
If you are a nurse suffering from burnout and looking for alternative career paths, you are in luck. Finding a new way to practice nursing may help you find the work life balance you have been looking for.
Here are a few ideas, just to get your brain thinking outside the box!:
Become a nurse coach and launch your own coaching business.
Start a nurse blog.
Become a home health nurse.
Become a travel health RN, and own your own travel clinic
Start a wellness program for nurses.
Look into legal nurse consulting.
Are you a nurse who is struggling with how to achieve a work life balance? I enjoy hearing thoughts and ideas from other fellow nurses. Please leave a comment below!