So, it may seem odd at first to hear that I also LOVE talking about nurse burnout. In fact, I think every nurse experiences burnout at some point in their career (if you haven’t please email me back and let me know your secret!).
Here’s the kicker. Once you admit you have an issue with nursing burnout you open yourself to the idea of potential solutions. But if you just pull your hoodie over your eyes and continue to suffer in silence then nothing ever changes. And your burnout gets even worse.
So, let’s talk about solutions for nurse burnout! (Solving problems is always better than complaining anyway).
Last week I had an amazing opportunity to interview with nurse coach and fellow ER nurse, Jessica Smith about bouncing back from burnout!
Our Bouncing Back From Burnout YouTube interview can be found here:
During the interview, we discussed:
How you can find a work-life balance with a busy nursing schedule;
Why nurses need to make their own health a #1 priority;
How getting to the “why” in your burnout can help you find patterns that contribute to your burnout;
And why you should always surround yourself with positive support!
P.S. If you are a nurse struggling with finding ways to take better care of yourself, here is a FREE E-BOOK . It’s called Nurse, Take Care Of Yourself First. Because nurses work really, really hard. And we need to be taking better care of ourselves. It includes tips for nurses on how to stay healthy during 12 hour shifts, ideas for better self care at home and suggestions for finding a better work-life balance.
Many nurses struggle with finding a work-life balance. With increasingly demanding 12-hour shifts, its tough to stay healthyand sane when you are continually going a 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 precisely what you need to simplify your life. Here are a few things to consider on your journey to creating a better work-life balance as a nurse:
* This post contains affiliate links.
1. What are your priorities?
Take inventory of both your nursing lifeand 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 an excellent 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!
2. 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?) 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 lifesaver for me!).
Also, a study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a significant 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!
3. 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 per diem nurse, I am 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 can effectively be a working mom at this time. Here is another way to create flexibility in your life: Try squeezing your workouts 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).
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!:
There are so many different types of nurses in various specialties that work within the hospital setting. So how do you figure out which one is right for you?
When I was initially toying with the idea of going back to college to become a nurse, I had no idea how many types of nursing specialties there were. I thought there was just a single “type” of nurse who did pretty much everything.
I was so wrong. That just shows how little I knew about the nursing world back then! I think many potential nurses who are contemplating getting a BSN may think the same thing as I once did.
The good news about starting in nursing school is that you don’t have to decide on what type of nursing specialty you want to go into right away. At least not until you get closer to the end of nursing school and start interviewing for jobs. Also, you can even change your nursing specialty during your career if you want (I did it and reignited my passion for nursing). So, if you find you don’t enjoy one specialty after a while, you can look into others that might better suit you.
This particular post explores nursing career specialties within the hospital. If you don’t want to work in the hospital, that’s OK. There are a ton of opportunities to explore as a new grad nurse outside of the hospital setting too! However, if the hospital setting is for you (as it was for me), then this is a quick and dirty explanation of the different types of nurses and nursing specialties that may be available to you!
There are dozens of different nursing specialties and levels of care in the hospital to choose from. When deciding on a specialty, it may help to start with the level of care that works best with your personality and then work from there. While some nursing students think the intensity of working in an emergency room might be exhilarating, others may prefer to start by learning on a medical-surgical unit instead.
The next step may be to consider which patient age groups you would most enjoy working with. For example, a nursing school friend of mine knew from the moment she applied to nursing school that she had to be a pediatric nurse. Yet another student friend was passionate about working in the geriatric community. Some nurses find that they love working with newborn babies or children, while others find that they enjoy the intensity of managing patients at the ICU level of care.
Lastly, as you start studying more about the different body systems and doing clinical hours, you can decide which specialties that you are most interested in. Being a student nurse is a great time to learn all about the different types of nurses in the hospital you might want to work in!
If you are interested in learning more about the types of nurses that in the higest demand, check out this video:
Types of nurses, based on credentials:
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
LPNs perform a number of duties under the supervision of an RN. They have a more limited scope of practice than an RN, however, they can check vital signs, give oral medication and give injections. LPNs are trained through a state-approved educational program, which takes 12 to 24 months to achieve.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered nurses (RNs) are nurses with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. It takes two years to complete an associate’s degree in nursing and at least 4 years to complete a BSN.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an experienced nurse who has also completed a master’s degree in nursing. CNS’s are trained in diagnosing and treating illnesses within a specific realm of expertise.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
NPs work under the supervision of a medical doctor, however, they have the autonomy to diagnose diseases, prescribe medications, and initiate patient treatment plans. Educational requirements include a master’s or doctoral degree.
Levels of care in the hospital setting
Medical-Surgical Care, otherwise known as Med/Surg, is the largest nursing specialty in the United States. Med/Surg nurses care for adult patients who are acutely ill with a wide variety of medical issues or are recovering from surgery. Nurses on these units often care for 4-5 patients (or more) depending on acuity.
Telemetry Unit patients are often more acutely ill and need constant monitoring. Patients here are monitored with telemetry monitors that allow nurses to review a patient’s vital signs constantly so they can give more detailed care. Often, Med/Surg and Telemetry patients are referred to interchangeably as many Telemetry Units have both types of patients.
Intensive Care Units
An Intensive Care Unit, otherwise known as an ICU or Critical Care Unit is a unit that provides a higher level of intensive patient care. Patients in the ICU often have severe and life-threatening injuries that require constant, close monitoring. Nurses in the ICU usually only care for 1 or 2 patients at a time due to the high acuity of patient care.
ER nurses treat patients in emergent situations who are involved in a trauma or other life-threatening injuries. These nurses deal with patients from all age groups involving many different levels of patient care. You may have patients with illnesses and wounds, ranging from dog bites or minor burns to more serious conditions such as strokes or other trauma victims.
Patient age groups
Hospital units are also broken into different age groups to offer more specialized care. This is also something to consider when deciding on a specialty you want to work in. Some of the age groups include:
Here is a general list of hospital specialty units that many nurses work in:
What nursing jobs are you most interested in?
As you can see from the above information, there are so many different types of nurses and nursing specialties. You may want to pick a few that are most interesting to you and narrow your search in from there. Once you get your legs wet in the profession for a few years, you may even want to look into other alternative and unique careers in nursing.
Now that you have a better understanding of the different career options out there for nurses, you may want to brush up on your interviewing skills. Let us help you achieve that with this article “How To Land Your First Nursing Job In Six Steps.”
Are you thinking about becoming a nurse and wondering what nursing specialties might be best for you? Or do you have any other questions about the different types of nurses in the hospital setting? Please leave a comment or question below!
I experienced nurse burnout after two years of being a nurse.
That’s right. After only TWO YEARS, I was already feeling overstressed, exhausted, and cynical about my career.
When my mind finally wrapped itself around this understanding, I thought I’ve barely graduated with my BSN, and I’m ALREADY burned out? How am I going to continue in the nursing profession for an entire career?
I was frustrated, confused, and, to be honest, a little heartbroken. I was passionate about helping others, and I did enjoy the mental stimulation that I got as a nurse. But I couldn’t figure out how there were nurses on our unit who had been doing the same thing for the last 5, 10 or even 20 years. Didn’t they feel the same way?
Lately, I have spoken with a lot of nurses about their experiences with burnout. The truth of the matter is that most, if not all, nurses feel spent and exhausted at some point throughout their careers.
Do you feel exhausted, anxious, physically ill, or dread the thought of going to work each day? If so, you, too may be experiencing burnout. Here are some tips that can help you overcome this chronic, stressful state and learn to thrive again.
Seven ways to beat nurse burnout: reclaim your passion!
1. Find a work-life balance.
Are you rotating days and nights? Constantly working overtime? Or maybe just working too many hours per week? That may work for a while, but it is not a very good long term plan. Everyone needs a break, especially nurses! Consider taking a vacation (or stay-cation) and plan a few solid days of “me” time. A little TLC can go a long way. You simply can’t continue to take good care of others before taking care of yourself first.
One of the best things a nurse can do to help prevent nurse burnout is to take good care of themselves. Often this notion is counter-intuitive to nurses because the nature of their job is to continually put others’ needs in front of their own. Ask yourself, what do I need to be healthy? Here are a few suggestions:
What is it that is causing you to feel the burnout? Try writing your thoughts down at the end of a few shifts to help figure out what is overwhelming you. Is there a pattern? Perhaps you need to plan your shifts differently. Are there a few personalities in your workplace that you are not jiving with? Or, maybe you just are not inspired by your chosen specialty. Permit yourself to be brutally honest about what you need to overcome nurse burnout.
4. Challenge yourself.
Are you under-challenged at work? There are so many ways to challenge yourself as a nurse:
Become a certified nurse in your specialty (or a completely new specialty!)
Compassion fatigue and nurse burnout are so common among nurses. Left unchecked, it can lead to mistakes, unhappiness, or even depression. Share your burnout struggles with a close comrade from work who can empathize with your struggle. If that doesn’t help, consider talking to a trusted mentor, a therapist, or find a career coach that can help you work your way out of nurse burnout. Nurses are self-giving creatures by nature, but we must give to our own needs as well. Crawl out of your shell and start talking it out!
6. Find an outlet.
What do you do on your days off that may you happy? If you don’t have a stress-relieving outlet, then its time to find one! Is your inner artist craving a creative outlet, such as painting, designing, or even scrapbooking? Does a day on the golf course or an afternoon on the tennis court bring you joy? Maybe you have been so busy that you have forgotten how wonderfully distracting it can be to become enveloped into an activity that you love to do.
Research has shown that finding a joyful outlet can enhance your mood, increase energy, lower stress levels, and even make your immune system stronger. Today is the time to find your joy!
7. Consider new options.
Have an honest discussion with yourself about your career. Are you a med/surg nurse who has always dreamed of working in the ICU? Or maybe you are an ER nurse with interest in becoming a flight nurse. A change in specialty might be precisely what you need to tackle nurse burnout.
On another note, nurses don’t have to work in a hospital. Perhaps working with injectables in a dermatology office or as a home healthcare nurse would be a better fit. There are so many nursing careers to choose from. The sky is the limit. Go find your nursing passion!
What do you do to beat nurse burnout? Leave a comment below!
In particular, travel nurses have a lot on their plate! They take travel assignments in cities where they’ve never even been and then work in different units with entirely new staff. And then when they finally think they have everything figured out their assignment ends and they go someplace else!
On top of that, they also have the physical and mental stress that comes with working 12 hours shifts.
Travel nurses need yoga.
By taking care of ourselves we are able to replenish our reserves and take better care of our patients and families. There is an endless amount of studies on yoga and its amazing benefits on physical and mental health.
As nurses, we need to practice what we preach and help lead our patients by example. Why should our patients take better care of themselves both physically and mentally if we are not doing it ourselves?
These are amazing for restorative chest opening poses! I have 2 of these in blue and purple. I use them all the time to help me wind down after nursing shifts. I also love using the booster to put my hips and legs up the wall after being on my feet for a twelve hour shift!