Nursing Burnout: Why it Happens and How to Prevent It

Years of working in any industry can lead to burnout, but couple a high intensity work environment with 12 hour shifts, and the rampaging fire of burnout only burns with more intensity. With 17 years of experience in the healthcare industry, we at CE Health Careers see the physical and mental toll that this career can take on many. In this blog, we aim to discuss why this phenomenon is so prevalent and provide you with tips for preventing it.

Why it Happens so often:

There are not many jobs out there that place as much stress on any one person quite like a career in the healthcare industry. It is the highest of stakes at ALL times. For starters, let’s discuss the workday. Twelve hour shifts are no joke. Point blank. Period. With very few breaks throughout a shift, the physical demand on nurses is tremendous. Whether working in the ICU, OR, Med/Surg, or ER, nurses work under high stress conditions at all times. Working long hours in a high stakes environment can wear down RNs both mentally and physically. Lastly, RNs are always mentally aware that it is their license on the line. In most other jobs, there is more collaboration in which the responsibilities are dispersed amongst several and the blame is shared by all. Oppositely, nurses may be the key responsibility holder for a patient for the entire 12 hours they are with them. This constant pressure has a way of wearing down on the nurse far greater than the physical stress may ever do.

How you can prevent it:

Now that we have talked about the not so fun parts of the nursing career, let’s talk about some easy strategies to prevent nursing burnout. PERSONAL GROWTH. PERSONAL GROWTH. PERSONAL GROWTH. We honestly cannot say it enough. The only way to stay satisfied in ANY career is to make sure that personal growth is at the forefront of your mind. What do we mean by personal growth?

As cliche as it sounds, you cannot pour into others if you are not pouring into yourself. Often, people get in the habit of feeling down about their situation while not realizing they are not doing anything to change it. Maybe for you, personal growth is taking that next step towards a master’s degree that will open up more leadership opportunities. It may be that you feel you should attend a motivational conference to get you out of a “funk”. Personal growth can look different for everyone, but the main point is to be doing something to better yourself. The better you feel about yourself, the better you will be at caring for others.

Other strategies for preventing burnout include making sure you get adequate rest and finding what your morale boosters are. Taking care of yourself is always important, but when you work in a high-stress environment like nursing, you have to go above and beyond to prevent exhaustion. It is all about finding the little things that just make you happy to be doing what you are doing and to be where you are. Maybe you love hiking, but you are so worn out that you are not taking the time do it on your days off. Make the decision before the exhaustion sets in that you are going to do the things that make you happy. These little things can breathe life back into your situation and rejuvenate your mind.