Nurse Burnout: This Is What Every New Nurse Can Do About It

Nurse Burnout

Image credit: michaeljung

Nurse burnout has been discussed and debated for years but remains a significant issue which impacts nurses and their patients. It decreases patient satisfaction on survey scores which impact hospital ratings. Nursing burnout has a ripple effect and impacts the nurse, the patient, and the healthcare system overall.

What is the difference between being stressed and being “burned out?”

A stressed nurse is an overwhelmed nurse and one that feels that they cannot meet their patient’s needs in a safe and caring way due to acuity, workload, stressful environment and other factors. The nurse cares very much about patients which causes him or her stress.

A burned out nurse has disengaged from caring and can distance themselves from their patient needs.

How does burnout impact patient care?

Nursing burnout is the antithesis of great nursing care. Burnout does not affect the nurse singularly. It ripples through the work environment and wreaks havoc. Burnout can impact comradery and create an unhealthy working environment by increased call-offs, tension, medication errors, and poor patient satisfaction. You don’t have to be in the profession too long before you know how important “Patient Care Surveys” are!

What can a new nurse do about burnout?

Nursing has been described as the most “caring” profession, but more often than not, that care is not directed inward. A nurse may not be able to control whether her coworker calls off or the acuity of her patients but what she can do is take care of herself. Florence Nightingale described nursing as the both an art and science and referred to it as “the highest form of fine art” as the medium is a living being. The most important thing that a nurse can do is to learn the art of self-care and extend that care to all that she interfaces and interacts with in her day. Here is a short biography of the amazing Florence Nightingale:

Why is self-care important?

The practice of self-care builds resiliency or wiggle room into a nurse’s day. It silences the screaming tea-kettle for several moments of respite in a hectic work environment. It is this reserve or wiggle room that builds resiliency and can make all the difference in the world to both the nurse and the patient. A resilient nurse is more able to handle the stressors that he or she encounters at work and home.

How can a nurse practice self-care on the unit when so much of his or her day is not her design?

Self-care opportunities in the work environment are not always evident, but there are some things that a new nurse can do to advocate for themselves and their patients.

A resilient nurse is a happier nurse!

Nursing burnout is common in nursing and causes both nurse and patient dissatisfaction. Many times it cannot be prevented altogether because healthcare if becoming more complicated but there are steps that can help build resiliency and help keep a nurse in love with nursing. A new nurse needs to heed the words of every flight attendant who tells us patiently again and again. “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first! If you cannot breathe, you cannot help anyone else!”