Long shifts = Higher levels of burnout

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    You may experience burnout sometime in your career. Recognizing the symptoms of burnout is the key to recovering. Please share any experience, tips, or articles on how you prevent and treat burnout.



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    poppycat, Ir15hd4nc3r_RN, Neisha_, and 6 others like this.
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  4. 26 Comments so far...

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    When you cannot get out of bed to go to work without dragging yourself, it is time to take some time off. Nurses are given vacation time and personal time and need to use it accordingly. If you come home from work and are still thinking about how much you hate where you are working, it is time to submit for a transfer. 12 hour shifts do not contribute more to burnout than 8 hours. It is the workplace that is difficult.
    Last edit by kathconserv on May 18, '13 : Reason: addendum
    Ir15hd4nc3r_RN and BrandonB779 like this.
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    I agree with kathconserv. However, you add the two together (12 hour shift plus the difficult workplace) and it makes for a very bad situation sometimes. If you have the time available, take some time off and re-evaluate the whole picture. Is it time for a transfer? A new facility? Whatever the choice, it will have been made with a clear head and concious.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
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    What really worked for me was switching to an 8 hour day. It doesn't always work for some people or just their preference level, but it just made more sense for my body. It really helped, but when all is said and done I still have to take breaks for myself. I'm planning a two week vacation at the end of the month.
    poppycat and VivaLasViejas like this.
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    12-hour shifts KILLED me, even when I was much younger and more fit than I am now. Inevitably I'd get to a point around 0500 when I almost stopped caring whether the patients lived or died, and that was scary....so I switched to an 8-hour shift and did better, even though I had less time off. Eventually I burned out anyway because it was hospital nursing and that is difficult under the best of circumstances, but at least I wasn't always so exhausted physically.
    poppycat and SoldierNurse22 like this.
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    The long hours can lead to burnout but so can the practice of not leaving it at the clock. I NEVER speak of work once I get home. I don't have "nurse" stuff in my house such as little figures and such. And when my sister ( also an RN ) starts talking work at family dinners I chunk a spoonful of mashed potatoes at her.

    Give yourself the gift of being someone more than the excellent nurse you are. Leave it at the clock.
  10. 2
    I think burned-out occurs the most when the nurse is working more than three twelve-hour shifts. When I start working as an RN, I plan to just do all three back-to-back-to-back, so I can have four days off from "vacation." That, or plan on working two twelves in a row, one day off and then back for the last would work as well. What I think is REALLY not helpful is when you work every other day....then you aren't really getting much of a break.
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    I think nurses burn out not necessarily because of 12 hour shifts, but because of the heavy patient load caused by floors being understaffed. Also, the amount of charting and rounding and "service" tasks nurses have to perform because of the new medicare rules (writing names, dates, goals and such on each patient's whiteboard, filling out rounding sheets, giving report in each patient's room, etc) that are added onto an already full day (assessing each patient and then charting that assessment, passing out meds, performing dressing changes and other treatments, calling Drs for patients who have changes in their conditions, getting new orders from Drs and performing them, admitting or discharging patients, starting IVs, ect) causes nurse frustration and burnout. I don't know why hospitals don't lobby congress to change the medicare rules so that nurses can begin to practice nursing instead of feeling like they should have gotten a hotel/motel management degree instead of a nursing degree. I think if medical facilities started listening to nurses and caring about their employees we would not see as much nurse burnout.
    Ir15hd4nc3r_RN, chi1099, C-lion, and 7 others like this.
  12. 2
    Hmmm, maybe this just varies from person to person?

    I felt more burnt out from five 8-hour shifts a week than I ever did from three 12's.
    TheCommuter and DizzyLizzyNurse like this.
  13. 4
    Quote from kathconserv
    When you cannot get out of bed to go to work without dragging yourself, it is time to take some time off. Nurses are given vacation time and personal time and need to use it accordingly.
    *** The sad fact is that for many, many nurses paid time off only exsists on paper. At both of my last hospital jobs I NEVER got a vacation cause we were alwasy getting LC'ed whenever they didn't need us. Either that or they were calling every day on your day off to come in and work OT.
    I alwasy had to use my PTO to keep my paycheck the same. Now my hours are guarenteed and I can actually use my vacation time.
    poppycat, chi1099, nrsang97, and 1 other like this.


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