Did you know the burnout rate for nurses is over 50%, according to a 2017 study by Kronos? In the same study, which 257 nurses at US hospitals were surveyed, 63% of nurses stated they were burnout, and 43% reported they worried their patient care suffered because they are so tired. Alarming statistics. Nurses learn so much throughout nursing school with very little focus on self care and stress management for themselves. Study after study reveals work related stress leading to burnout is a significant issue among nurses in the US.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is the result of chronic stress. It can happen when the perceived demands outweigh the perceived resources (Potter et al., 2014). A study out of the University of Toledo (Ohio) found that 92% o
f nurses reported ” moderate to high stress,”” yet the majority lacked coping mechanisms to manage the stress load. Not only does this negatively impact the nurses’ own health, but it has a tremendous effect on patient safety. A 2016 study on the correlation between burnout and patient safety, found that for every patient added to the workload of a nurse experiencing burnout, would increase the risk of infection.
Symptoms for Burnout
Recognizing the symptoms of burnout is the key to change. Some signs and symptoms that you or others are experiencing are exhaustion, anger, cynicism, irritability, restlessness, lack of focus, and unable to engage with patients. Sound familiar?
In addition, it is thought that burnout and/or compassion fatigue could be a contributing factor to lateral violence (Potter et al, 2017). This occurs when nursing staff gossips, withhold information from each other, and/or demonstrates non-verbal expression of disapproval.
Healthy Stress Management techniques
I hope this helps give you some ideas for self-care and stress management when you are feeling stressed at work. Burnout doesn’t have to happen if you have some stress relief coping tactics in your toolkit!
Yes, as a nurse, you will get stressed. You are going to have bad days and feel overwhelmed. However, recognizing how to de-stress in a healthy way- not through food and/ or alcohol is key to preventing burnout. You can have a long, happy, and healthy nursing career- without burnout!
Potter, P. A., Perry, A. G., Hall, A., & Stockert, P. A. (2017). Fundamentals of nursing. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.
Ross, J. (2016). The Connection Between Burnout and Patient Safety. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 31(6), 539–541. DOI: 10.1016/j.jopan.2016.08.010t