I've been hitting the allnurses discussions quite a bit in the last few weeks. Not only do I feel burned out and fed up, but I'm also reading a lot of posts from others feeling the same way. Frustration, anger, depression, stress . . . !!
Is this so common in nursing that it's an occupational hazard?
What is burnout, anyway? What are the symptoms?
How do you know when you've got it?
What do you do about it?
Does changing your job or situation really cure it?
Does nursing need to change in some fundamental way to keep nurses healthy and reasonably happy?
Are managements really to blame? What could they do differently? Where is the breakdown? Can if be fixed or just tolerated?
I'd appreciate your thoughts and experiences on this topic. For those of you who've read some of my posts, I'm out on a medical leave. Nothing physical. Just needing some time to regroup, heal from some major stress and depression, burnout! And, if possible, I'd like to avoid getting back here in a week (or a day) when I return to work. Just thinking about going back to work causes immediate anxiety! What do you do when you feel like this?
Last edit by Youda on Oct 4, '02
Oct 4, '02
When I was at home in Ohio, the thought of going to work gave me a headache and I broke out in a rash on my face. When I was off, I felt wonderful. But the day I had to go in... I woke up out of a sound sleep one day and called a travel company and said I'm ready to go. That was the end of my burnout. I actually enjoy my job now. I'm no longer traveling. It took me 5 1/2 years to find a place to call home. My job is still crazy( I'm still nursing--what else can it be?). But I'm not stressed anymore.
Oct 4, '02
Hey Molly !! I did the same thing....and have been fairly happy where I am now, but every rose has its thorns.....I actually came here as a traveler, and when I left, got homesick, and came back....have been here 5+ years now.
I think that every nurse will experiance "burnout" at some point, and you need to do whatever necessary to get through it.....be it change jobs, get out for a bit, travel, try a different unit or anything that shakes uo the gray cells, and makes you remember why you got into this absolutely wonderful, exasperating profession.
Oct 4, '02
All week long I've been going over and over this. I can go back to my old job or find another one. Or, I can be a bag lady. So far, the bag lady idea is winning.
The old job has all my benefits. I love what I DO. I just hate admin. Whatever nasty, hateful, terrible things you can imagine out of management, they're doing it. Wouldn't even be a question about quitting except I LIKE my job. Don't say to go talk to admin. Been there, done that. I walked out with a write-up because I'm a "troublemaker." Yeah, it causes real trouble when someone complains about bad care, disrespectful treatment, unfair and unequal discipline, etc.
On the other hand, I can find another job that I may not like as well, have to go through the "new job" stuff and trying to fit in with the staff, and chances are pretty good it won't be any better situation than the one I'm in.
So you see why bag lady is winning.
Oct 4, '02
Well, wouldn't K-Mart be better than living on the streets? Just kidding, but I know where you are coming from. I think we have all been there at some point. I read every single item in the want ads of two papers for 6 years now, have had about the same number of job changes, and I think it is the health care system that is killing the caregivers. So much red tape to muddle through, it's hard not to get tangled up in it.
I don't know what the answer is for you, and haven't figured it out for myself yet. I think I have just decided if I stay in nursing, I will have to learn to deal with stress better. Zoloft is helping, but it's not the entire answer.
I did a little surfing when I saw your question, and this article had a lot of good info, but the typing is a little weird, here is the link...
Oct 4, '02
I am in nursing school right now and am looking forward to the nursing field. Burn-out I believe happens to all folks in any profession. I am currently working as the fire chief for the military. I have reached my 21 year point and sure am ready to move on to nursing. I am burned-out from the strains of the military. I am proud though that I lead "my firehouse" in a way that provides the rank and file with a sense of purpose and teamwork. It was important to me to remember where I came from, that was the bottom of the ladder (no pun intended), and that I need to lead accordingly. I am going to be happy to be out in the the nursing field as a beginner. Being a newbie will be refreshing to me.
Just my .02cents...
Oct 4, '02
Great link Hoolihan. I've felt "weird" for as long as I've been a nurse. I worked as an EMT on the ambulance for 6 years - Never dealt with as much BS that goes on in the nursing arena.
Oct 5, '02
I was in a similar position....I decided to leave and finish my graduate work as a fulltime student but not until I had saved a significant amount by living below my means.
There are no guarantees that the next job won't be more of the same or even worse. However, there is the chance that it will be better and at this time of nursing shortages, you have the upper hand in choosing where you will work.
When you go for interview, ask about why the last incumbent left the position, how long they were in the post and where they are now. That will give you some ideas. Find out about the typical length of service of staff nurses. Get a chance to talk to people who are currently working there in the same unit.
From your previous posts, Youda, one can tell that you are a caring and conscientious nurse who advocates for patients
and is supportive of fellow nurses. We need more like you in nursing. All the best to you in making a decision that works best for you.
Last edit by globalRN on Oct 5, '02
Oct 5, '02
I have been working in hospitals for 38 years, have been an RN for 24. Havbe been in many different Types of nursing from psych to ICU to Home Care. Burn out every 5-6 years or so. Need to redirect my "sails" and get into something new. That is one beauty of nursing today, there are many areas to explore. The downside is that eventually one gets to the end of the working years and not only psychologically does it get harder to put up with the hazards of burnout but physically as well. I think the patients of today are more self centered and demanding about the care they get because of the "patient rights" issues brought to the forefront and expect "service" (as in hotel and restaurant) instead of "care" (as in health). That's just my slant on things. It is apparent by the amount of nursing personnel who are on prescription meds to help just get through the work week we give up more than just time to be nurses.
Oct 5, '02
Hang in there Youda. Nursing needs you. I hope you find that happy medium for your sake and the patients you serve. Hugs.
Oct 5, '02
((((((((Youda)))))))))) Hang tough dear nurse! Don't let the profession consume you. Take charge of it, or it WILL
take charge of YOU!!!
I've always heard that "burnout" in nursing tends to occur seven years into the profession, but with what nurses are dealing with today in patient care, that estimated seven year itch has been greatly reduced to more like seven days
Venting here helps! It's not your whole life....just a part of your whole life.....hang in there! :kiss
Oct 5, '02
I have worked for seven companies and six of them my positions were either eliminated due to budget cuts, mergers or buy outs. I have been burned out. Wham it just all of a sudden hits you. You will never forget what it feels like either. I hated to go to work. I got burned out of home health recently and took a month off to figure out what job I wanted plus to finish some of my graduate classes. I just felt like I was sick of driving. Was driving 500 to 800 miles per week to see patients in their homes and driving on top of that another 350 to 800 miles per week to get to and from the office depending on which office I was booked out of. Low pay and sometimes I would work three weeks straight without a day off...........horrible. I was exhausted. Was considering getting out of it altogether. Took two snf jobs that did not work out-they were both in deep doo doo. I applied at Life Uniform and was told I was overqualified. I told hubby I was getting out until I recently got an offer I am considering taking. I am trying one more time and if it does not working out I am leaving. I don't care if I work at a store or flip burgers. It is not what it was like when I graduated 16 years ago. People tell you they are patient focused but wow it is dollar focused.....................
Make sure you take time for you to renew your energy and don't let people work you like a dog............try not to work a bunch of over time......
Oct 5, '02
Do you guys have any idea how wonderful you are? Thank you!
This is probably really wierd. But, here goes:
Yesterday I got to thinking about this (instead of avoiding thinking about it) and I finally arrived at the question:
If I were my patient, what would I do with me?
I'd do an assessment.
I'd make a care plan.
And, I'd start implementing that care plan. Right? At first, it was just something fun to do. Then, I got really into it.
So, I brought out my Carpenito's and here's my "care plan."
1. Decisional Conflict r/t possible career change
Outcome criteria: Make a decision about keeping or quitting my job.
Interventions: Define what would be most helpful in decision-making process.
Explore other job opportunites within a 25 mile driving area.
Make list of pros and cons of keeping current job and finding a new one.
Make a list of alternatives.
Use prayer and meditation to make decision.
Keep my personal short- and long-term goals as priorities.
2. Moderate to severe anxiety and depression r/t job status, personal security, and "burnout"
Outcome criteria: Describe anxiety and coping patterns
Use effective coping mechanisms
Experience reduction in depression and anxiety
Interventions: Begin list of triggers.
Explore alternate therapies: aromatherapy, thought-stopping, music, relaxation techniques.
Say "NO" when unsafe working conditions are likely to cause anxiety
Say "NO" when personal boundaries are being violated.
Review assertiveness training techniques and/or take a class.
Everyday do something non-essential (blow bubbles, take a walk with dog, read something
inspirational, listen to music, etc.)
Begin to eat better and smoke (a little) less.
Replace broken VCR so I can do my Richard Simmon's exercise tapes again.
3. Ineffective individual coping r/t inadequate psychological resources to adapt to career pressures.
Outcome criteria: Identify coping patterns and the consequences of the behavior that results
Identify personal strengths
Interventions: Determine what things can be changed and which ones can't.
Make a plan to change the things that can be changed.
Read about stress reduction techniques and choose 1-2 to do.
Practice stress-reduction techniques when things can't be changed.
Be aware of feelings of guilt (It's all my fault, I'm to blame, I did something wrong).
Pay attention to emotions and body signals.
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