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Preventing Burnout in Nursing

Ask any nurse and he/she will tell you how rewarding a nursing career is. The experience of helping a patient and family through the recovery process is one that most nurses wouldn’t trade for anything.

Nursing can also be extremely demanding, both physically and emotionally.  Keeping up with medications, patient requests, paperwork, education, bathing, long hours, staffing, etc., can be overwhelming, to say nothing of the responsibility of having another human’s life in your hands.

In 2018, one-third of US nurses reported “high burnout.”  The adverse effect of long-term work, the symptoms of burnout include:

  • Distancing from patients
  • Diminished competence
  • Low energy
  • Irritability
  • Job dissatisfaction

Clearly, burnout is important not just for nurses, but for their coworkers, employers, patients and families.

Those of you who fly have heard, “Please attend to your oxygen mask before your child’s.” Much like in nursing, the reason for that is simple – you can’t care for someone else when you aren’t caring for yourself.

Your work is important, but so are YOU. I care about every Good Shepherd nurse and encourage you to take time to make yourself a priority, even for a short while. There are a number of ways you can do that:

Eat right and get exercise. We give this advice to patients because it’s important. How you fuel and treat your body impacts how you feel.

Laugh. Yes, there’s stress, but there also are humorous moments that keep things in perspective. Look for and embrace those moments, even if you laugh at yourself.

Practice mindfulness. We all get caught up in life. Participate fully in the moments the day presents you and take a few moments to reflect on them.

Take a break. If stress builds, take a few minutes to gather your thoughts or go for a walk.

Make time for you. Have a hobby or activity – something where you take time for yourself – whether it’s cooking, crafting, the outdoors or family time.

Ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. There are resources available to support you, including your supervisor, a fellow nurse or our employee assistance program.

Lastly, please know my door is always open. I am available to listen, offer suggestions and help in any way I can.