Feeling the Burn?

Or just plain fizzled out?

Burnout. We all know it happens to the best of us. None of us are immune. I think we all must hit this wall somewhere along the line in our nursing careers. Whether it is a result of short staffing, night shift work, overtime, or lack of advancement in a chosen field, nursing burnout can be an insidious foe.

Nursing burnout, a stress syndrome characterized by “emotional exhaustion”, was described by a group of nurses in a recent survey as a result of feeling saddened, discouraged, and powerless as they left their job each day. According to results of several studies, burnout affects between 37-45 percent of nurses in the workforce at any given time, with the greatest percentage attributed to nurses under the age of 30.

As an added statistic, one study noted that workload was a huge factor: one additional patient per nurse increased burnout by 23%.

Studies show one thing to be clear: job satisfaction and the ability to interact with patients have an inverse effect on burnout. In other words, if you have job dissatisfaction and feel like you don’t have adequate time to interact with your patients, you may well “feel the burn.”  Even new nurses are not immune. In fact, new grads may be experiencing burnout from grueling classes and clinical schedules, only to find that these feelings become more intense as they enter the workforce.

The simplest solution, at first glance, might be a change of scenery. If you are truly dissatisfied with your employer or your field, you might consider a new job. Nursing is an open field of both traditional and non-traditional specialties. Not everyone is cut out to be an ICU, cardiac, or pediatric nurse. However, factors like seniority in staffing, insurance, job security, location, salary, work hours, and other underlying reasons may be very valid motives to stay at your post. So what’s a girl (or guy!) to do?

You may find, as some of my friends and I have, that a few small but timely changes can make a big difference in you, your family, and your patients’ lives. Meanwhile, if you would like to share how burnout has affected you, please feel free to leave a comment. Sometimes it helps to compare notes, and realize you are not alone.

~Post cowritten by Beth, RN

Byron Webb Romero, RN, MSN

Finished BSN at Lyceum of the Philippines University, and Master of Science in Nursing Major in Adult Health Nursing at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. Currently working at Manila Doctors College of Nursing as a Team Leader for Level I and II, Lecturer for Professional Nursing Subjects, and also a Clinical Instructor.

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