Reasons Why Burnout Is So Common In Nurses : Stress has been categorized variedly and studied as a response, a precursor, or an inducement to other serious human conditions. Work-related stress is prevalent and is regarded as an occupational hazard due to its impact on our health.
However, some occupations are, by nature, more stressful than others. Healthcare, for instance, is one such industry where workers are exposed to a higher degree of stress than others. A prolonged condition of stress known as burnout is a frequent occurrence among healthcare practitioners.
Burnout refers to a mental, emotional, and physical incapacity whereby a person finds it hard to find any motivation for work. The healthcare setting, with all its work overload, changing shifts, little time to sleep, and the constant exposure to the grim surroundings of a healthcare facility, wears heavily on the nurses’ motivation.
The pressure builds up, causing stress to mount, and eventually, the mental and physical tolerance reaches a breaking point. Few professionals of any industry can match the nurses’ dedication to their work, but in facilitating health in others they seldom get time to look after their own.
However, you must understand that burnout is, first and foremost, a problem of perceptive control. A crippling sense of stress may lead you to feel that you exercise no control over your life, so why even bother. If that’s the case, a more helpful option would be to pursue an additional degree so that you can upskill and apply for positions that would make you feel good about yourself.
The education route can be hard to pursue when you have to contend with constant shift changes and long-shift hours. But online nursing programs, like the online fnp programs, make it a lot easier for nurses to get a degree of their choice while still putting in the hours at the hospital.
With the added responsibility to submit assignments and study the coursework, the nurses can easily shift between learning and practicing modes, which allows for a nice change of pace. Upskilling with the right educational resources will help you boost self-esteem as you start applying for jobs that you previously thought were beyond your ambitions.
An improved social standing and authoritative power to affect change in the environment around you, there is little likelihood that you will go through the helpless burnout feeling ever again.
What causes stress and burnout in nurses?
While these remedies might be the answer to the symptoms, or even to a large extent limit the onset of burnout, there are, however, causes of burnout that have to be addressed head on. To avoid implementing any stop-gap measures that you’d regret later, it is definitely better to work from the ground up and work at the core mental and psychological stressors that are making you burnout.
So let’s take a look at the causing factors of burnout among nurses:
Growing demand for nurses
Currently, more than 3-million nurses work in U.S. hospitals. The staggering demand for healthcare is making even this huge number look small-scale. The demand is driven by the healthcare needs of the baby boomer generation that is getting older and require more care. A rise in chronic illnesses have also overburdened the nursing staff, which is leading to higher attrition rates and early retirements among nurses. And as the facilities go understaffed, the scaling demand will most likely leave nurses overworked and exhausted.
Nurses work in long shifts and have to, sometimes, put in 12-hour straight shifts to provide care for patients. Countless studies have found that working long shifts is not only detrimental to the nurses’ health but also affects their ability to provide quality care for the patients.
A study, conducted in 2010, and spread over six countries and thousands of patients, found that long working hours among the healthcare practitioners led to lower patient satisfaction levels.
While working on 12-hour shifts, nurses only succeed in bringing themselves ever closer to burning out. And as fatigue and exhaustion sets in, they find it hard to maintain work-life balance, commit avoidable mistakes as they struggle to concentrate, all the while worrying about their personal and professional lives.
More work hours invariably lead to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. If you routinely miss out on getting proper sleep, it can make you feel less motivated to work. Nurses not only contend with long-shifts but also have to constantly adjust to variable shift timings. This leads nurses to develop bad sleeping habits. In a study conducted by Kronos Inc., 25% of the participating nurses complained about not getting enough sleep between shifts.
Poor communication and work environment
It might surprise you to find out that a poor work environment is one of the most-frequently cited reasons of burnout in nurses. It is often difficult to concentrate in an environment that is fraught with management problems, toxic leadership, and ruthless social climbers. Lack of good communication can get in the way of building a working relation between nurses and doctors, that will affect the quality of care, not to mention cause mental stress for nurses.
Some nursing specialties deal with highly stressful situations. For instance, a nurse working in critical care or emergency care may have to always deal with patients suffering from combat injuries, unfortunate accidents, and people dying. Witnessing all the grim and macabre picture of a hospital critical care on a daily basis can take a toll on nurses’ emotional and mental health.
Your body can handle only so much, and when you think you can’t take the stress anymore, it’s better to step back, go on a vacation, or do something entirely unrelated, and then come back. A study on oncology nurses found that 30% of them suffered from emotional fatigue, while 35% said they were unable to perform to the best of their abilities; both indicative of burnout.
The healthcare system rests on the countless sacrifices made by nurses in terms of their health, work-life balance, and mental health. Burnout is a serious condition that affects nurses the most out of all the other professionals. The underlying cause is stress, which leads to a general apathy among nurses. You should identify the underlying causes of your stress to ensure that you don’t get burnt out as frequently.
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