Nursing Burnout PreventionNursing is a rewarding career, with growth potential, financial opportunities, and personal satisfaction. However, you cannot overlook the challenges of working long hours, caring for sick patients, and dealing with workplace stress. Burnout is impending because of staffing shortages in the field. However, the situation is not as bad as it appears.According to a recent survey by nurse.org, nursing professionals nationwide feel slightly better about their jobs. Nearly 60% still love being a nurse, an improvement from 2021. However, they still report hardships such as lack of support, mental health issues, and high levels of burnout. A full 91% believe the nursing shortage is worsening, and inadequate pay, poor working conditions, and burnout are the primary causes. Clearly, there is a need to build your defenses against burnout. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce stress and prevent falling off the edge. In this article, we will share a few strategies to make your career burnout-safe.
Nursing is an ever-evolving profession, with changing expectations, patient care techniques, and healthcare policies. The shortage is a significant factor, with the estimated total shortage reaching a massive 1.1 million in 2022. Unless you are ready to adapt and improvise, you may feel stressed and even consider switching careers.Staying relevant can save you from stress and prevent burnout in the long run. But you will probably worry about the pressure of upskilling amid your career responsibilities. Online programs are an ideal solution because they help you advance your skills without compromising your current job.Let us say you have an Associate Degree in Nursing (RN) and want to get a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). You can pursue an RN to MSN program online instead of enrolling in a full-time program by taking a career break. These programs offer skill development opportunities without pausing professional growth.According to Wilkes University, an online degree is an investment to stay relevant. You can even consider specializing in areas such as family nurse practice, geriatric care, or psychiatric care. Being a specialist opens more opportunities and reduces work pressure, keeping you ahead of your peers. Besides engaging in continuous learning and professional development, attend conferences, build a network, and stay informed about advancements in healthcare. By expanding your knowledge and skill set, you can enhance your confidence and effectiveness. It reduces the risk of burnout linked with feelings of inadequacy or stagnation.
Nurses in the US have long working hours, ranging from 8, 10, or 12-hour shifts. These shift times may vary depending on factors such as demand in your location and personal preferences. As a full-time nurse, you can expect a 40-hour week, or even longer during healthcare emergencies (remember COVID-19 when nurses worked around the clock). These timelines elevate the risk of burnout.Setting clear boundaries is the key to preventing burnout. Commit to these boundaries and communicate with your supervisors about workload limitations. Learn to say no when necessary and delegate tasks to prevent the accumulation of responsibilities. Also, create work-related boundaries by detaching emotionally from challenging situations.
Build a Support System
The emotional toll of nursing can be overwhelming because you deal with work stress and patient woes. At times, you may find yourself going too far with compassion and empathy, making personal bonds with your patients. In these circumstances, burnout is likely sooner rather than later. Building a robust support system is crucial.Foster connections with colleagues, participate in support groups, and seek mentorship opportunities. A strong network enables you to share experiences and seek insights into coping strategies. Having a reliable network can provide validation, emotional support, and a sense of camaraderie. It helps nurses navigate the challenges and stresses of their profession more effectively.
Advocate for Workplace Well-Being
According to a study, cumulative physical and mental health issues may contribute to the risk of nurses leaving their profession. Besides long work hours and clinical care responsibilities, lack of work flexibility and the threat of violence from patients can affect your mental health over time. Additionally, issues like strained muscles, lower back pain, and needlestick injuries are common.There is a need to advocate for workplace well-being because these issues can cause burnout. Consider advocating for your well-being and that of your colleagues. Discuss your workload concerns with supervisors and seek better scheduling solutions. Share expectations for initiatives such as implementing stress reduction programs and fostering a positive workplace culture. You should also actively participate in initiatives aimed at promoting better working conditions.
Adopt a Self-Care Routine
Your health should be a priority, no matter how busy you are and how long your working hours get. You can always squeeze in some time for your personal needs. Adopt a self-care routine and stick with it because you should be in good health to give your best to patient care. Prioritizing self-care practices can also help you keep burnout at bay. Begin with the basics such as sticking with meal times, fueling your body with adequate nutrition, and engaging in regular physical activity. Also, get adequate sleep, practice meditation, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Take scheduled breaks when possible and plan a holiday once or twice a year. Also, be self-compassionate because you cannot be perfect at all times. An actionable self-care schedule is easy to embrace and maintain, provided you are committed to your well-being. You should not feel guilty about addressing your needs because the habit will eventually empower you to do better for others.In conclusion, burnout poses a considerable threat in the challenging realm of nursing, with potential repercussions on both personal well-being and professional performance. Despite the demanding nature of the profession, it is crucial to prioritize preventive measures against burnout. Acknowledging vulnerability is the first step, followed by taking proactive steps to preserve mental and physical health.Nurses should feel empowered to demand improved working conditions and breaks, recognizing the importance of self-care. Managing burnout is not just about individual well-being; it also enhances the quality of patient care. By embracing these strategies, nurses can foster resilience, ensuring they continue to make meaningful contributions to the healthcare field with compassion and effectiveness.