Nurse Burnout

nurse burnoutBeing part of the nursing profession, stress is inevitable. We are constantly faced with challenges and demands as we go through our pursuit in promoting health and caring for the sick that a stressful environment has become synonymous with an 8-hour long duty shift.

Burnout takes place when the stress of nursing, whether physical or emotional, gets a bit too much for us to handle. The stress we already feel can then lead to physical and emotional symptoms and if left unhandled for long periods, it may even lead to professional dissatisfaction.

Burnout in the Clinical Setting and the Academe

From being nursing students, to becoming professional nurses, we encounter nurse burnout from time to time. This particularly true since as nurses, we are surrounded by a depressing surrounding wherein we regularly get to witness seeing a patient’s pain and suffering at the same time, work under demanding conditions, thus, it is considered as a very stressful profession. We are given heavy work load and even work for long periods of time, while some work for 8 hours, there are also nurses who even spend 12-16 hours of work.

In an 8-hour shift, we are expected to accomplish a long list of tasks, most of which are centered towards the care of our patients. We spend most of the shift on foot as we cater all the needs of our clientele, from administering medications, to performing sponge baths, turning and lifting of patients, and accompanying the physicians in their rounds. Aside from that, we are also given paperwork to complete within the day such as nursing documentation. Though you come in fresh and energized, a long day in the hospital can drain you physically and mentally. Also, there are those difficult patients who fail to cooperate and require much effort to deal with.

Student nurses, too, cannot escape this reality. Nursing school isn’t exactly easy. You get to have long lecture and laboratory hours, mind-boggling classes, difficult assignments and sleepless nights spent on studying for the exams. Aside from those, you also get to be exposed to the clinical area where another set of stressors await. All in all, balancing your time between school and duty can be a bit challenging and may eventually take its toll on your body.

Signs and symptoms to look after when experiencing nurse burnout are: depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, headache, increased irritability or agitation, and lead to addictions. You may also experience having a negative attitude towards your job, no longer enjoy going to work, have difficulty focusing and may become emotionally detached.

Saying No To Burnout

However stressful the situation that we are in may be, we also have the right to take a break and breathe. Simple ways can be done in order to prevent nurse burnout: take a break and seek help, there are times when you just can’t do it all alone. Acknowledge that you, too, have limitations, after all, you are still human. Also, confront denial, do not deny that you are also capable of being exhausted. Next, you have to establish personal boundaries, identify the scope of your responsibility. As you care for others, it is also important that you take time and care for yourself, make sure that you cater our own basic needs as well. Before you care for others, make sure that you are well enough to do so.

Nursing may be a stressful profession and there are times when you just want to quit, however, it can also be very rewarding. At the end of the day, a simple gesture of appreciation from our patients and their folks can magically wipe away the stress and replace them with a big smile on our face.


Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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