Long shifts = Higher levels of burnout

  1. 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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    About Brian, ADN

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    Specialty: 18+ year(s) of experience in CCU, Geriatrics, Critical Care, Tele


  3. by   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. 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
  4. by   gamber2313
    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.
  5. by   NJnewRN
    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.
  6. by   VivaLasViejas
    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.
  7. by   LoveMyBoxer99
    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.
  8. by   ThePrincessBride
    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.
  9. by   RNmyFriend
    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.
  10. by   BrandonLPN
    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.
  11. by   PMFB-RN
    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.
  12. by   brandy1017
    I think the changeover to computer charting and med pass has really contributed to burnout for me. It takes longer and is so tedious, especially giving meds, I don't know how the day shift does it. The computer why are you early why are you late constantly questioning every move you make and you can't pass the med without answering it. Also knowing management is watching your scanning, late meds, etc just adds needless stress to an already stressful situation. Ever since Press Ganey scores became an issue we are constantly pushed to jump threw whatever latest gimmeck hourly rounding, bedside report to raise scores. It really gets me down. Bedside report would be ok if you were allowed to give the main report outside and then meet and greet the patient after going over the main points with them, but management refuses to allow any leeway. They just want you to do what you are told and that's it, even though the reality is a poor report to the oncoming shift. There is no way you can give a detailed report for a complex patient at bedside, and I think this does a real disservice to the patient when the oncoming nurse is not given a detailed report. Especially with these complex fragile patients with multisystem problems a good concise but comprehensive report is essential to the best care and to prevent relapse! Why won't they listen to us and work with us to provide good care.

    Now raises are tied to pt satisfaction scores and it is impossible to get the scores where they want them. Patients will never be happy when they have comments about their stay criticism can be it was too hot, too cold, food bad, etc, etc, etc. You can never please everyone perfectly. Too much is out of our control yet we are held responsible anyway.

    I feel bad for the patients that get C-dif, MRSA during a hospital stay but telling us to wash our hands is not the answer! We can wash our hands and do and yet if the environment isn't clean what good does that do. They keep cutting housekeeping and won't spend the money for such things as steamers and the UV radiation robot. If they would invest their money in such things they would really cut down infection rates, but no lets just tell everyone to wash their hands, yet the curtains are never changed and the room has only been cursorarily wiped down by a rushed housekeeper! Why won't they just listen to us and collaborate with us to improve patient care since we are at the bedside and know what works best

    I think a lot of nurses work 12 hour shifts to get it over with and not be at the hospital 5 days a week because it is too frustrating and draining never being listened to or respected and just being constantly told what to do! So much for being a professional! I think the only way to deal with burnout is to disengage and refuse to take the morale and environment personally, but how do you do that when you strive to do your best and went into nursing to actually help people?
    Last edit by brandy1017 on May 18, '13
  13. by   TheCommuter
    I do well with longer shifts. It's the shorter 8-hour shifts that burn me out because I am forced to report to work five days per week.

    With 12-hour shifts I have four days off per week. The 16-hour double shifts enable me to have five days off per week. I'd rather not come to work five days a week when compressed schedules allow me to have more time off.
  14. by   Love2ReadRN
    I prefer longer shifts too. I can't imagine having to go into work 5 days vs 3! I know the shifts are longer but in all honesty the extra four hours aren't that bad.