The nursing profession tends to attract the most compassionate and empathetic people alive. For that reason, nurses are also the most susceptible to experiencing “burnout.” Eventually, chronic overwork and stress can lead to nurse burnout symptoms such as exhaustion, anxiety, physical injury or even depression. If you have been a nurse for a while then you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
Nurse burnout symptoms don’t start right away.
A novice nurse is so fresh. The happiness to be done with nursing school combined with the excitement of having the title RN after your name moves the new nurse optimistically through each 12 hour shift.
Yet, many nurses find themselves experiencing nurse burnout symptoms, sometimes after only a year or two in the profession. Still, they continue working with the same rigor and determination without taking good care of themselves.
Here are a few nurse burnout symptoms to look out for:
1. Chronic exhaustion
Have you ever gotten 8 hours of sleep yet still felt exhausted when you woke up? Or, are you so tired that you can’t imagine how you are going to make it through another 12 hour shift? If so, you may be experiencing chronic exhaustion.
Many nurses aren’t just tired, they are worn out. Not only do nurses work long 12 hour shifts, but many nurses are working mid shifts, night shifts and overtime. In fact, studies show that the longer the shifts for hospital nurses, the higher the levels of burnout and patient dissatisfaction.
2. Compassion Fatigue
Nursing is a caring profession and compassion is one of the most important elements of patient care. However, constantly caring for others’ needs before your own can lead to compassion fatigue. Symptoms of compassion fatigue include emotional exhaustion, irritability, and poor job satisfaction. You simply cannot be a good nurse if you begin to dislike your job.
If you find yourself feeling like you are losing compassion for your patients because you are experiencing this nurse burnout symptom, then you owe it to your patients and yourself to take a break. Go on a vacation, play a round of golf, take a yoga class or find a way to get some quality alone time to recharge your batteries.
3. Losing your passion
When many nurses are asked why they decided to go into the nursing profession they say it was because they had a “passion” for helping humankind. Passion is exactly what drives us to do good work. So, if you feel you are losing your passion then it may be a good time to find it again.
Stagnation is the killer of passion. Do you feel like you are no longer learning within your specialty? Perhaps it is time to become certified within your specialty or even find a new specialty altogether. Nursing is a career for lifelong learners. Learning keeps us educated and it can also help you find your passion for nursing again. It’s a win-win!
More is expected of nurses than ever before.
Nurses need to find a work life balance more than ever. Heavier patient loads and the physical demands that come with working arduous 12 hour shifts are killing the spirit of many RN’s. To top it off, it seems as if hospitals are trying to save money in any way they can and unfortunately that usually translates into less and less resources for nurses.
The bottom line is this: when nurses are able to take care of themselves they are able to give the best possible care to their patients. This scenario is a win-win for everyone involved: nurses, patients, and the business people who are managing healthcare.
As nurses, we simply cannot continue to burn the candle at both ends and expect a good outcome.
If you are experiencing nurse burnout, there is hope! You can beat nurse burnout and even rediscover your passion for nursing. A result of my own nurse burnout was that I became a nurse blogger to vent my frustrations and help find solutions for my own burnout. However, it is your responsibility to figure out why you are unhappy within your career and find your nursing passion once again. You too can beat nurse burnout!
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