Studies conducted by the WHO reveal that about 63% of nurses confess their job causes burnout. The survey by Pubmed also found that 4 out of 5 nurses believe hospitals lose good nursing staff because of their inability to offer a good work/life balance.
Disengagement and low morale at work are costly to employers. According to the American Nurses Association, nurse burnout costs US healthcare $4.6 Billion Annually. It is because nurses dealing with burnout struggle to provide quality care, are more likely to make errors, and are less productive.
While it’s true that employers must take some responsibility in ensuring that their nurses don’t experience burnout, there are also things that nurses can do to protect themselves.
So, how can nurses avoid burnout?
1. Excel in Organizational Skills:
There are many things that nurses have to keep track of daily. From patient records and medications to appointments and treatments, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Staying organized is key to avoiding burnout.
Some helpful organizational tips include:
- Keeping a detailed and up-to-date to-do list
- Staying on top of paperwork and records
- Color coding files and folders
- Using a planner to keep track of appointments and deadlines
Organized nurses can analyze procedures and allocate their time more efficiently, leading to less stress and a greater sense of control.
Several online nursing programs offer time management and organization courses specifically for nurses.
2. Use of Support Systems:
Nurses often feel like they have to be the strong one, the one who never falters. However, this mindset can lead to isolation and burnout. It is unhealthy for their mental state and prevents them from performing well at work.
Reaching out to colleagues, friends, and family members for support is crucial. These people can provide an outlet for nurses to vent their frustrations and help them cope with the challenges of the job. In addition, many hospitals offer employee assistance programs that connect nurses with counselors and other mental health professionals.
These professionals address nurses’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs to help prevent burnout. So, if you’re considering swapping your scrubs for sweatpants, consider using one of these support systems.
3. Set Personal Boundaries:
As a nurse, how often do you find yourself saying yes to a shift when you’re already exhausted? Or maybe you’ve stayed late to finish a project, even though you had plans with your family. While dedication to your job is admirable, it’s essential to set boundaries to feel rested and rejuvenated.
Nurses who set personal boundaries are more likely to feel autonomous, and less overwhelmed by their responsibilities, leading to increased job satisfaction.
Some tips for setting personal boundaries include:
- Saying no to extra shifts or overtime
- Taking time off when you’re sick
- Making time for yourself outside of work
- Disconnecting from work during vacation
4. Communicate Effectively:
Effective communication is the nucleus of any successful relationship, personal or professional. When nurses and their colleagues communicate openly and honestly, it fosters a positive work environment and decreases the chances of a conflict.
Poor communication often leads to misunderstandings, which can lead to frustration and stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, take a step back and assess your communication style.
Are you communicating your needs effectively?
Do you feel like your colleagues understand your workload?
Are you able to openly discuss your concerns with your supervisor? If the answer is No, it might be time to discuss them with your boss or coworkers. Discuss issues like excessive workloads, unrealistic deadlines, or a lack of support.
5. Take Part in Policy Discussions:
Some employers take the initiative and allow nurses to have a voice in developing policies and procedures. Employers are interested in retaining their staff, and this practice of including nurses in the decision-making process can help to achieve that goal.
When nurses are part of the policy-making process, they’re more likely to feel a sense of ownership over their work. So, if you’re lucky enough to have this opportunity, participate in the discussion!
Before you voice your opinions, educating yourself on the current policies and procedures is best. For instance, if you’re discussing a new medication policy, read about the pros and cons of the proposed changes. This way, you can provide educated input and help improve the workplace.
Not all nurses can participate in policy discussions, but that doesn’t mean they’re powerless. If you’re unhappy with a current policy, speak to your supervisor or another decision-maker.
6. Care for Mental and Physical Well-Being:
You advocate for patient safety and well-being, but what about your own? Do you make time for yourself outside of work? Are you getting enough sleep? Eating a balanced diet? Exercising regularly? These changes may appear small but can significantly impact your overall well-being.
Self-care is essential for nurses who want to avoid exhaustion and burnout. When you take care of yourself, you’re more capable of caring for others. So, make time for activities that make you happy. It can be anything from watching your favorite series to taking a short vacation. And most importantly, don’t forget to relax!
As for staying physically active, regular exercise can help enhance your mood and increase your energy levels. It also helps reduce stress and anxiety. So, indulge in weekly yoga classes or hit the gym for a short workout during your lunch break.
7. Look for an Alternative:
If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still struggling with burnout, it may be time to consider a new job. Of course, this isn’t always an option, but knowing your worth is essential. If you’re unhappy with your current situation, don’t be afraid to look for an alternative.
You don’t necessarily have to shift your field altogether. Sometimes, a change of scenery is all you need to regain your passion for nursing. Moving to a new unit or hospital is also a good idea if you’re feeling burnt out.
You may also want to consider changing your schedule. If you’re working long hours, see if you can switch to a day shift. Or, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your current workload, talk to your boss about reducing your hours.
Nursing pays well and offers many opportunities for career growth. But it’s also a demanding profession that can cause dissatisfaction. Long working hours, unfavorable working conditions, and a lack of control over one’s work are some factors that lead to burnout.
If you’re struggling with burnout, it’s crucial to take action. The first step is to identify the problem. Are you working too much? Do you feel like you’re not making a difference? Once you’ve pinpointed the cause of your dissatisfaction, you can take steps to improve the situation.
We hope you continue to make a difference in the lives of your patients!