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I am a nurse struggling with burnout. What should I do?

There are times when the ordinary and relatively manageable levels of stress that come with working in the healthcare industry can escalate into unmanageable, chronic stress. When this happens, we are at increased risk of burnout.

It is important to take this feeling seriously. Nurse burnout can quickly escalate to impact personal health and the ability to provide quality care to patients.

Nurse burnout statistics

First, know that you are not alone. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published a study that looked into this issue. The study reviewed the results of over 50,000 respondents and found almost 10% of nurses left their jobs last year. Of this group, over 30% pointed to burnout as the primary reason due to a stressful work environment and understaffing issues.

Tips to help address burnout

Ideally, nurses who find themselves in this situation will have a leader that they can talk to — a manager, head nurse, or trusted peer that can provide some valuable feedback to help you get back on track. This could include tips that help increase efficiency, adjusting expectations so they are more reasonable or just listening so that you can talk through the stressors and challenges that come with the profession.

Additional tips that can help include:

  • Self-care. We are more successful in life when we are physically and mentally healthy. Take the time to get good sleep, nutrition, exercise and to do the things you enjoy.
  • Shut it down. For some, writing about the day to get it all out can help transition away from your professional life and into your home and personal life. A piece published by the College of St. Scholastica refers to this as “brain dumping.”
  • Switch. Maybe it is time to look into a position with a different provider. Another hospital, private practice, or clinic could have a position that offers a better nurse-to-patient ratio or work hours.

Taking the time to research the problem is a great sign. Do not stop here. Apply the tips that work for you and look ahead to a bright and fulfilling future providing care for the patients you serve.

Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication