Nursing is fundamentally stressful. The complexity of the work, the pace of schedule, and the high-stakes decision making within critical human situations make this profession mentally demanding and emotionally taxing. This type of high intensity stress can lead to emotional exhaustion, cynicism toward the work, an eventual reduction in work performance known to some as BURNOUT.
No two cases of burnout look quite the same, but things to look for include may include frequent sick call, increased negativity & irritability, withdrawn behaviors, intolerance to change, and general exhaustion.
While hospital management and nursing leadership can play a role in addressing some workplace stressors like workflow and scheduling for example, it is the nurse herself who plays the most vital role in the prevention of burnout.
Nurses must engage in strategies of self-assessment and self-maintenance. First, recognize your work for what it is… stressful. Then assess your response to that stress. If your response to the accumulation of stress is negatively affecting you and your work, it must be addressed.
First, ensure a work - life balance. Perhaps meditate or simple spend time to self-examine. And, also TAKE A BREAK AT WORK! Stop skipping lunch. That time of disengagement is crucial to your emotional well-being. Also, nurses may discover an emotional reset in a simple change of scenery and scope of work.
For a growing number of nurses, consulting assignments outside of their normal day-to-day shift work is allowing for fresh perspectives on their work and a wonderful respite from the daily stress.
Yes, nursing is fundamentally stressful. Don’t allow poorly managed stress to lead to burnout.