Early burnout?

  1. Maybe you can help me out, but it seems as if it's taking less time for nurses to burn out these days. Could it be the disillusionment of what they expected nursing to be vs. the reality? Or has practicing the profession, not the manual labor we are treated as, become so much more difficult in the past ten years? I've been nursing for 20 years and it took at least 16 or 17 before I crashed and burned. One of my biggest contentions was that despite my age and experience I was being placed in a subordinate,"this is how it's done" position.
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   Mijourney
    Originally posted by nanjam:
    Maybe you can help me out, but it seems as if it's taking less time for nurses to burn out these days. Could it be the disillusionment of what they expected nursing to be vs. the reality? Or has practicing the profession, not the manual labor we are treated as, become so much more difficult in the past ten years? I've been nursing for 20 years and it took at least 16 or 17 before I crashed and burned. One of my biggest contentions was that despite my age and experience I was being placed in a subordinate,"this is how it's done" position.
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    Hi,
    There are so many internal and external reasons for nurses burning out at an earlier stage. In my mind, one major reason for early burnout is the use of advanced technology(especially on the floors of hospitals) and services on sicker patients. Technology and services are more time intensive than in the past. In addition, with each passing generation, people are becoming more demanding and needy. Increased patient to nurse ratios make it difficult to compensate for this.

    Another reason for early burnout is decreased family participation in patient care. Even in home health, many families will drop the ball completely when HHC services begin. What may contribute to this is the fact that boomers, who now make up the largest percentage of people in the world, are worn out from having to take care of several generations of family members and working outside of the home. In nursing for example, hospital administration has not come to grips with their employees increased personal responsibilities as evidenced by layoffs and having nurses work mandatory overtime.

    The change in demographics and mentalities that obsessively focus on profit are going to lead to earlier burnout, in my mind.
  4. by   bunky
    I think as well as all of what mijourney listed you have the fear factor too which aggravates it all. There is a lot to be afraid of in this job. The expectations placed on us as nurses goes up while our numbers go down and it creates it's own form of stress. After prolonged periods of this kind of stress, and it seems a few years is enough of it for many nurses, they bail out or burnout. We were given a healthy fear for our licenses in school, and rather than lose it, many would rather pull out and resign it. There is no end in sight for what we are facing right now, just threats that it's going to ge worse, and memos telling us that we are going to be facing "some changes" and we've all come to realize what those mean to our jobs. We don't hear that any of this is just a temporary measure until the financial situation improves, because we appear to be doing our jobs, so to administration, we can be expected to do more with less. Why should they staff us adeqautely when we can cope as it is now? To them it'd be a waste of money. They don't care that nurses are leaving. When a nurse leaves a position many times that position becomes closed, they have no intentions of filling it.

    Nursing schools couldn't have prepared us for what we are currently facing in our jobs. As you point out nanjam, it's taking nurses less time to realize this and get out.
  5. by   oramar
    Originally posted by nanjam:
    Maybe you can help me out, but it seems as if it's taking less time for nurses to burn out these days. Could it be the disillusionment of what they expected nursing to be vs. the reality? Or has practicing the profession, not the manual labor we are treated as, become so much more difficult in the past ten years? I've been nursing for 20 years and it took at least 16 or 17 before I crashed and burned. One of my biggest contentions was that despite my age and experience I was being placed in a subordinate,"this is how it's done" position.
    I have been out of nursing for six months now. I was an LPN for 15 years then an RN for 15 years. I have asked myself many times, was it really the changes in the profession that caused me to leave or was it changes in myself like advancing age and my tendency toward anxiety and depression that drove me out? Here is my conclusion. Everyone has a point at which their tolerance for stress is exceeded and at that point they will burn out. The last five years has seen the number of stressors in nursing increase by leaps and bounds and that make the point at which people hit the wall come sooner. Now this burnout point continues to be different for different people at different times in their lives but the over all effect is it that it is happening sooner. Inspite of the fact that I was in my fifties and was handling larger patient loads and sicker patients than I had ever done before I was making it right up until the time they started manditory overtime. Six months of going into work never knowing when I would go home pushed me over the edge very quickly. A younger person with less experience might have handled the overtime with no trouble but might have burned out over increasing work loads. I hope I am making my point clear to you, that burn out is happening earlier and earlier for a variety a reasons.

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  6. by   happydog
    i think that burn out is not so much what the job entails, rather how our work is perceived, and how nurses treat each other. I don't know if it's our profession in particular, or women in general, (stereo-typing that nursing is primarily female.)But i have found other nurses to be very UNSUPPORTIVE. They berate new grads for inexperience, or staff nurses for human error that is not life threatening, they gossip and generally tear each other apart. I think that nurses eat their young, and then complain about not enough staff. How can we be compassionate to our patients when we cannot even cut our own a break? I find the demeanor of nurses to one another disgusting. That is why i work registry, and don't get involved. I work for the good of my patients, not for a better paycheck (although that would be nice) or to flaunt my education, clinical skills, etc. to my co-workers. Burnout is the way it is because of lack of support, not increase in work. How do we expect support from others when we cannot even support each other?

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    "The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
    If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
    (Mother Theresa)

    "Evangelize at all times; when neccessary, use words."
    St. Francis of Assisi
  7. by   Nurseshirley
    Hi Nanjam!
    I also believe this to be true too. I am a new nurse of only two years and have worked in only one facility where there is high turn over or nursesand LNA's. It is a rehab center and acute care center in one. The moral stinks and people are dropping out like flies. I myself have been burned out for the last six months on this job because it seems that I can't do everything that I FEEL I should do by the end of the day and do a good job. I feel that the regulations on the facilities and us are horrendous. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any regs. on things and on us just that it makes it impossible for facilities to pay people what they are worth, and many times we all feel under-appreciated for the job that we do even though we can only do so much in a shift. I just today have gone to an interview to a new job and really hope that it works out for me. It is a college nurse position. I do believe that when we as nurses go in to the profession feel that we can make a difference in the facility that we work in and maybe we do sometimes but not often enough to make us feel like we are making a difference and when we do we often do get enough recognition for the good that we do. I believe that and that the additional burden of the extra work from others being burned out and their negative attitudes affect us and perhaps that is why nurses are burning out sooner. That is the case for me any way. Hopefully my new endeavors will once again give me the feeling that I can make a difference.

    Originally posted by nanjam:
    Maybe you can help me out, but it seems as if it's taking less time for nurses to burn out these days. Could it be the disillusionment of what they expected nursing to be vs. the reality? Or has practicing the profession, not the manual labor we are treated as, become so much more difficult in the past ten years? I've been nursing for 20 years and it took at least 16 or 17 before I crashed and burned. One of my biggest contentions was that despite my age and experience I was being placed in a subordinate,"this is how it's done" position.
  8. by   Nurseshirley
    Hi Nanjam!
    I also believe this to be true too. I am a new nurse of only two years and have worked in only one facility where there is high turn over or nursesand LNA's. It is a rehab center and acute care center in one. The moral stinks and people are dropping out like flies. I myself have been burned out for the last six months on this job because it seems that I can't do everything that I FEEL I should do by the end of the day and do a good job. I feel that the regulations on the facilities and us are horrendous. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any regs. on things and on us just that it makes it impossible for facilities to pay people what they are worth, and many times we all feel under-appreciated for the job that we do even though we can only do so much in a shift. I just today have gone to an interview to a new job and really hope that it works out for me. It is a college nurse position. I do believe that when we as nurses go in to the profession feel that we can make a difference in the facility that we work in and maybe we do sometimes but not often enough to make us feel like we are making a difference and when we do we often do get enough recognition for the good that we do. I believe that and that the additional burden of the extra work from others being burned out and their negative attitudes affect us and perhaps that is why nurses are burning out sooner. That is the case for me any way. Hopefully my new endeavors will once again give me the feeling that I can make a difference.

    Originally posted by nanjam:
    Maybe you can help me out, but it seems as if it's taking less time for nurses to burn out these days. Could it be the disillusionment of what they expected nursing to be vs. the reality? Or has practicing the profession, not the manual labor we are treated as, become so much more difficult in the past ten years? I've been nursing for 20 years and it took at least 16 or 17 before I crashed and burned. One of my biggest contentions was that despite my age and experience I was being placed in a subordinate,"this is how it's done" position.
  9. by   iamme8557
    I currently work in a hospital that is having a "financial crisis" the moral is terrible, the work is overwhelming and the administration dosent seem to care about the staff. Talks of mergers and closing of some of the facilities in this health system has caused a mass exodus of nurses. Now we have less staff,whenI first started working in this unit 6 years ago we had 58 full time RNs, at the end of this month we will have 29. The same number of patients but not enough staff to take care of them. 3 patient assignments are common and errors are occurring more often. I am going to buy new horseshoeing tools today and am starting my farrier business again. I did corrective horseshoeing for 15 years before becoming an RN and I think the time has come to go back to that as an income. I will still work as a nurse for a while but I dont know if I will stay in this profession. I am treated like an endentured slave not a health professional. My co-workers in the unit I work in are wonderful, co-workers include the docs, aids and housekeeping staff, we are like a family. I actually socialize with much of them outside of work, this is probably why I am still here, I do enjoy being a nurse but it is getting tough to justify the stress for what I get out of it. The pay is low and the supplies are not always available to care for the patients properly.
    Deanna
  10. by   bunky
    Nanjam, you sound so much like a woman I work with who has been on the same unit for 26 years and is still going showing no signs of slowing down. I have been working with her for a year now, and frankly I am sick of the job, and feeling very frustrated. I was just recently involved, unwittingly I have to say, in a hospital power play stunt which has left me feeling disgusted! I am tired of running all night long like a chicken with my head cut off, and coming home to my kids, and then having to go to bed while they are awake, and getting up to do it all over again. Feeling so frustrated, I asked this enduring lady, who has no kids but maintains a very productive life outside of the hospital, why she stays here, how she can take this, and her answer is that she is too stubborn to leave, and that she likes the fast pace. She holds several degrees, and could work anywhere!

    While I admire her for her determination, I want out of bedside nursing all together. I keep thinking that I want a job where I use my head more than my feet. It's not that I think I know it all and that I am bored by working the floor. It's more that I think I have a different calling than to run by butt off for a living. I enjoy many of my patients, and am still able to get that satisfied feeling sometimes when I know I have helped them, or when they take a minute to come to find me at the end of my shift to say thank you for doing a good job. At those moments I feel ten feet tall. While I know I will miss that feeling, I think about all of the rest of the crap that goes on, and know that no matter where I go, I am capable of making a difference. I want to start making that kind of a difference for myself and my own family though, and I don't feel selfish for that!

    I think that many of the newer nurses felt that going to nursing school and getting an education meant an end to those days of being a waitress, or working a manual labor job. But we get hit in the face with the fact that working in a hospital as a nurse is a lot like the occupations that we tried to escape by getting an education. I don't think that nursing school realistically prepared us for that idea. We get out of there feeling proud, and thinking we've come so far, only to find ourselves locked back into the same type of a job.
  11. by   oramar
    Originally posted by iamme8557:
    I currently work in a hospital that is having a "financial crisis" the moral is terrible, the work is overwhelming and the administration dosent seem to care about the staff. Talks of mergers and closing of some of the facilities in this health system has caused a mass exodus of nurses. Now we have less staff,whenI first started working in this unit 6 years ago we had 58 full time RNs, at the end of this month we will have 29. The same number of patients but not enough staff to take care of them. 3 patient assignments are common and errors are occurring more often. I am going to buy new horseshoeing tools today and am starting my farrier business again. I did corrective horseshoeing for 15 years before becoming an RN and I think the time has come to go back to that as an income. I will still work as a nurse for a while but I dont know if I will stay in this profession. I am treated like an endentured slave not a health professional. My co-workers in the unit I work in are wonderful, co-workers include the docs, aids and housekeeping staff, we are like a family. I actually socialize with much of them outside of work, this is probably why I am still here, I do enjoy being a nurse but it is getting tough to justify the stress for what I get out of it. The pay is low and the supplies are not always available to care for the patients properly.
    Deanna
    Here we are, another Pennsylvania nurse describing another facility in my state where a crisis exist. When I first came to these message boards I was in such a bad mental state because I thought I was having problems due to my own short comings, I blamed myself mostly. I have never once stated that I experienced supply shortages that I thought endangered patients but it did happen. I see that it has happened to others. When I reported it to managment there reaction was very nasty. I was told that it was my fault, I was responsible. Needles to say I withdrew confused and tried to to just make due when it happened again. Pennsylvania has a very high percentage of elderly and a lot of poor people. The cut backs in reinbursement are hitting the institutions that serve these two groups
    very hard. It is very unfair that nurses who have traditionally served the poor and the elderly are the ones paying the biggest price in stress. Their reward for working for years for lower wages in non profit institutions is job insecurity, increased work load, pay and benefit cuts and stress, stress, stress. This is a political thing and our goverment representatives are the ones who have done this. They have stood by while the most needy portion of our population have been targeted for reductions in services. Well, my congressmen and senators are hearing from me about this. I am not sitting on my hands.
  12. by   bunky
    It's not just there Oramar! Texas is hard hit too, and from the sounds of it so are a lot of other states.
  13. by   oramar
    Originally posted by bunky:
    It's not just there Oramar! Texas is hard hit too, and from the sounds of it so are a lot of other states.
    The post from Texas sound very bad. Matter of fact they sound worse than bad.
  14. by   CUCU
    Hi, I am a RN working in the OR for one year. I am a nurse for just 3 years. At the begining, I worked as a med/surg nurse. When I started in the OR, I have felt little by little the burn out getting me. I supposed to finish working every day at3:30PM, but my boss is very demanding asking all staff to stay, so I am working about 12 hours every day plus the "on calls". Nobody explained to me when I signed the contrat for OR that I have to work the hours that the OR could decide to ask me for. I am very disappointed with my job. I am very disappoited with the way that some surgeons are treating RNs as inferior and unrespectfully. The sadest thing is that administration does not do anything about it because surgeons are their income, and we are JUST nurses.

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Early burnout?