How can nurses avoid burnout?

  1. Hi-

    One topic that comes up a lot is burnout. Nursing is a physically, emotionally, mentally demanding job. What can a nurse to do avoid burnout?

    Some folks on these boards have said that entry level nurses should start in med-surg because you learn a ton. A friend of mine recently told me DO NOT do that because you'll get burned out too fast and you'll hate it. Thoughts?

    I have to imagine there are ways to try to minimize burnout, either by taking a specific career route, by finding outlets for the frustration on your off time, or maybe being careful about the facility you choose to work in.

    Any thoughts on this topic would be appreciated. I'm applying for nursing school next fall (taking pre-reqs now) and appreciate any advice anyone has.

    Best regards,

    L
  2. Visit nolamor profile page

    About nolamor

    Joined: Jul '10; Posts: 31; Likes: 4

    26 Comments

  3. by   eriksoln
    The Everything New Nurse Book: Gain ... - Google Books

    Dang thats a long link. Anyway:

    This book had a lot in it I still remember today. Describes a lot of things we can do to avoid bad habits in the workplace and at home that lead to burnout.
  4. by   meandragonbrett
    Don't work a minute of overtime because you've been guilted into it. Only work OT if you truly need the cash.

    Learn to say "No" to your employer and learn it very quickly.
  5. by   LibraSunCNM
    I don't think the type of unit you work on is as important a factor in burning out as is the level of support on your unit for a new grad. I work on an extremely heavy surgical floor where we take care of 6 different surgical services. It's mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. While I am currently looking to move to my specialty of choice, I've lasted at my current job, which was my first job as a nurse, for 2 years because of the level of support and camaraderie on my floor. Any questions I have are answered and not sneered at. Any time you call out, "I need help in here!" when a patient is going down the toilet, at least 5 people rush into the room. We work as a team, and that's why I haven't burned out.
  6. by   j621d
    If you feel you are getting "burnt out" with nursing, then you have been in your position too long. Personally I don't believe in it (don't throw the tomatoes just yet). There are too many avenues and opportunities in nursing that you should never "burn out."

    I have found that about every 6 - 8 years I change something in my job. I've worked nights, changed to days, gone part time, changed jobs completely (from bedside to office type work in a hospital). My latest change is returning to school to earn my masters.

    If you feel you are burned out, or getting burned out, then you haven't done anything to either advance yourself, or expand your own knowledge.

    Please, no offence to anyone - I feel rather strong about this. I've been in nursing over 25 years and have found that I can learn something new just about every day.
  7. by   mappers
    Quote from meandragonbrett
    Don't work a minute of overtime because you've been guilted into it. Only work OT if you truly need the cash.
    Slightly OT, but I had a cop-friend tell me something he tells new recruits - not to pick up all the OT and off-duty work you can. He said that he has seen over and over again cops who pick up all this off-duty work and live off that work like it's regular income. The next thing you know, they're buying a house, a flashy car or truck, the stereo, the boat, whatever because they have all this cash. Then 15 years down the road, they are now dependent on that income, it isn't just "extra cash". They are working 80 hours a week, never see their kids, spouse, etc., and they are burned out and still paying the mortgage on that house, the loans on the cars, etc.

    I've seen nurses do the same thing. They work tons of OT, as much as they can get. Then OT gets cut, census drops, etc. and then they are looking for extra work because "they can't afford to not have that OT".

    Learn to live on your base income and view OT as bonus income only.

    (Disclaimer: There are exceptions where people have medical bills or expenses that really are out of their control where they need OT. But my guess is that a lot of people in this situation are living beyond their means to begin with.)
  8. by   Doc Lori, R.N.
    I think that some nurses have the propensity for burn out, and some don't, no matter where they work. The more work and research I do on this subject, the more I realize that. Someone with a solid sense of who they are, complete with a reasonably good sense of self worth and boundaries typically will not get *terribly* burned out, whereas the opposite can occur if those attributes are not present.

    Best wishes!
  9. by   j621d
    Quote from Doc Lori, R.N.
    I think that some nurses have the propensity for burn out, and some don't, no matter where they work. The more work and research I do on this subject, the more I realize that. Someone with a solid sense of who they are, complete with a reasonably good sense of self worth and boundaries typically will not get *terribly* burned out, whereas the opposite can occur if those attributes are not present.

    Best wishes!
    Point well taken!
  10. by   Doc Lori, R.N.
    Thanks,j621d. I learned this through personal experience!
  11. by   Meredith09
    Quote from mappers
    Slightly OT, but I had a cop-friend tell me something he tells new recruits - not to pick up all the OT and off-duty work you can. He said that he has seen over and over again cops who pick up all this off-duty work and live off that work like it's regular income. The next thing you know, they're buying a house, a flashy car or truck, the stereo, the boat, whatever because they have all this cash. Then 15 years down the road, they are now dependent on that income, it isn't just "extra cash". They are working 80 hours a week, never see their kids, spouse, etc., and they are burned out and still paying the mortgage on that house, the loans on the cars, etc.

    I've seen nurses do the same thing. They work tons of OT, as much as they can get. Then OT gets cut, census drops, etc. and then they are looking for extra work because "they can't afford to not have that OT".

    Learn to live on your base income and view OT as bonus income only.

    (Disclaimer: There are exceptions where people have medical bills or expenses that really are out of their control where they need OT. But my guess is that a lot of people in this situation are living beyond their means to begin with.)

    Very sound advice
  12. by   Fribblet
    The best way to avoid burnout is to forgo the bedside.

    I'm a firm believer that almost everyone in any profession will experience some level of burnout at some point in their career. The key to not letting it destroy your career is early recognition of the symptoms. Burnout is a disease, and some people are more prone to it than others.
  13. by   eriksoln
    Quote from Fribblet
    The best way to avoid burnout is to forgo the bedside.

    I'm a firm believer that almost everyone in any profession will experience some level of burnout at some point in their career. The key to not letting it destroy your career is early recognition of the symptoms. Burnout is a disease, and some people are more prone to it than others.
    What are the symptoms you think?
  14. by   Fribblet
    Quote from eriksoln
    What are the symptoms you think?
    Not too different than signs of depression, in my opinion.


    Every day at work is a bad day.
    Persistent feeling of tiredness.
    Feeling like you're not appreciated and that all your efforts make no difference, either in the workplace or with your patients.
    You find work mind-numbing, dull, boring...in general, you're under-stimulated.

    Everyone has days where we feel some or all of these things. Signs that you're headed toward burnout is having these feelings with greater frequency, and a much greater difficulty getting out of a "funk."

close