Hello nurses! My name is Jennifer Oaks and I am a senior in a BSN program at the University of Cincinnati. I am doing a psych project on stress and burnout in the nursing profession. My question to you is: Do you feel that a stress managment class implimented into the BSN curricullum would help nurses to deal with burnout in the furture? I come to this site quite often and I notice many nurses speaking about how "they never thought they'd become that way." How do you feel it could have been prevented? Also, if you have any personal stories about burnout, I'd be very greatful to listen. Please email me or post your responses. Thank you so much for your time.
Jennifer S. Oaks
Nov 27, '98
Dear Nurse Oaks, I deny that I am burned out, but I do have a suggestion. Positive feed back from management. In fifteen years of staff nursing, I have recieved about five positive compliments from my managers and about five hundred complaints. You will react to this by saying this person has no business in nursing, she must be a bad nurse. I am very proud of being a nurse but have reached the same conclusion, I will shortly begin retraining for a completely new field.
Nov 30, '98
Dear Ms. Oaks,
As a former nursing student and instructor, I do believe that extensive training in stress management should occur at the beginning of nursing education. I have seen students with under developed coping skills attempt to control stress related to nursing education with no knowledge of stress management. As I am sure you have seen on occasions among your peers, sometimes the inappropriate stress management in school can be life threatening.
I do not believe that stress management in school may not prevent or decrease the amount of burn out in nursing. Burnout is caused by more then one type of stress: critical, delayed, accumulative, and chronic. No matter how much training you have there are stress events that occur that it would be abnormal not to have burn out.
An example that has occurred in nursing is the homicide of a co-worker who is on duty. If a nurse is working in an area that there is some feeling of safety, like an emergency department, there is little expectation of another nurse being shot to death at the work station.
This is an example of the critical incident in which atypical behaviors by the survivors are usually thought of as abnormal are actually normal response. These episodes and exposures are rare so it is difficult to prevent the consequences.
When nurses know they will be exposed to an infrequent and extraordinary event there are some steps that can be taken to limit the amount of burnout. Even with limiting the amount of burnout there is still an expected percentage that will progress to burnout. The first situation is a delayed stress response by a MCH nurse who has a mother die during labor from an air embolism. No matter how much training you have had, you cannot save the mother. Most likely you will be grieving still when you are assigned to the next laboring mother and may exhibit hyper vigilance with her. Hyper vigilance results in physical and mental exhaustion and if the exhaustion is not addressed quickly enough burnout will occur.
An accumulated response would be a nurse who is doing morgue duty in a disaster. Usually shifts are no more then 4 hours but after a couple of days stress does begin to accumulate. Career life for a nurse who does disaster morgue duty is only around 5 years. In this situation burnout is expected.
Burnout does not mean that a nurse won't return to the type of work assignment again. Emergency and Disaster nurses are a group that have been known to leave their work environment and then return to it later after a hiatus.
Dec 2, '98
Hey Jennifer.. hope my response isn't too late to help out with you paper.. you asked " Do you feel that a stress managment class implimented into the BSN curricullum would help nurses to deal with burnout in the furture?... How do you feel it could have been prevented? "
I do not feel that stress management would be appropriate for an entire class.However, I graduated from a BSN program and although there was not a separate class for stress management it was talked about liberally throughout my nursing education there.
I remember talking about it first semester of our Senior year because many of the students were becoming "stressed out" "burned out" students. That experience helped me more than anything to be able to put things in place in my life to PREVENT burnout and in addition to learn MY signs and symptoms of burnout so that I could identify it early and intervene.
How can it be prevented? mmmm I would think the answers would vary as much as nurses do. The key items are to know the causes and implement a plan to prevent them. For me that means having balance in my life. So I PLAN a balanced life.
Unfortunately it doesn't always happen. So, when i wake up in the morning dreading going to work for more than just one day then I KNOW my work stress has increased and if I don't do something now to intervene and ignore that feeling then I will be a wallering blabbering lump of jello in another month. <grin> It is NOT a pleasant sight. I especially have to be careful of burnout because I am a critical care nurse and "stress are us" so to speak. I know this and my coworkers know this. So, we try to be aware of any changes in appearance or attitudes and talk to one another. Sometimes the gentle voice of a coworker who has been there is a great blessing.
Hope this helps!
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