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The Causes of Nurse Burnout (And How to Keep Yourself from Being a Victim)

The Causes of Nurse Burnout (And How to Keep Yourself from Being a Victim)

Nursing is a career that requires compassion, attention to detail, commitment to going above and beyond to help patients and plenty of knowledge. While those characteristics are likely some of the things that made you a perfect fit for the profession, they can also be the reasons why so many nurses burn out. In tandem with the nursing shortage, nurse burnout is a growing problem. A 2017 study of the issue found that almost 30% of nurses considered leaving their career due to feeling overworked, and almost 50% of nurses feel more overworked now than they did two years ago. What is behind the nurse burnout crisis?

The Definition of Nurse Burnout

Burnout refers to the emotional, physical and mental fatigue that nurses can feel due to overwork, a lack of support and a lack of fulfillment. Nurses face a disproportionately high amount of stress on the job, in addition to long hours and emotional situations. In serious cases, burnout can turn into resignation and total exhaustion.

The symptoms of burnout include physical exhaustion, job-related cynicism, compassion fatigue, intolerance to change, irritability, a low sense of accomplishment and feeling a lack of accountability. Untreated burnout does not improve and can lead to clinical depression and dangers on the job.

What Causes Nurse Burnout?

Nursing is a demanding profession, and a number of organizational and job-related stressors combine to create burnout. The roles that a nurse must play are vast, as nurses are responsible for medical care, education, patient advocacy and working with patients and families. Emotionally-taxing conversations are a daily reality in the workplace, and staying invested in the well-being of every patient can quickly become overwhelming.

As compassionate caregivers for children and adults in their weakest moments, nurses are at a higher risk of burnout due to their innate unselfishness. Putting others before yourself is noble, but it can quickly force you to forsake your own health and wellness as a result.  

In the United States, the leading cause of nurse stress is teamwork. When communication breaks down, some medical providers have a difference of opinion or other medical professionals are unwilling to work together harmoniously, it increases the stress level and likelihood of developing burnout. The nursing shortage is compounding the stress of teamwork by decreasing the number of available team members at any given time.

Keep Yourself from Becoming a Victim

  • If you identify any of the signs of nurse burnout in yourself, seek help as soon as possible. Many hospitals and healthcare practices offer employee assistance programs that can connect you with counseling, stress management and other programs designed to reduce burnout symptoms.
  • Adapt your behavior outside of the workplace to put yourself in the best possible physical and mental space. Maintain a healthy diet and prioritize exercise and your own visits to the doctor and dentist. Schedule time to enjoy your hobbies and spend time with friends, family and loved ones.
  • Explore ways to manage conflict on the job. Work as a team or with management at your workplace to de-escalate conflicts before they become an issue and prevent disagreements from creating a tense and unpleasant work environment.
  • Prioritize sleep in your daily schedule. When you don’t get enough sleep, it is more difficult to quickly solve problems, adapt to a changing environment and remain level-headed. More sleep also allows you to reduce your caffeine intake!

We Are Nurses Hiring Nurses

Nurse Earth is a nurse-centric recruiting and staffing agency dedicated to connecting nurses with positions that meet their needs and highlight their expertise. Nurses are never just a number. We go above and beyond to show nurses like you that we truly value their professional interests and career success. To submit your resume or learn more about our services and how we can help you find the nursing job you are looking for, visit us online, give us a call at 1-800-450-1081 or contact us here.