How to avoid burnout (kinda long)

  1. I'm almost a nursing student. (Starting in June, only 145 days left but who's counting?) I don't know if I've had a string of bad luck or what, but I've had lots of jobs (5 jobs last year, and I have been in my current place for over one full year which is a milestone for me.)

    I am extremely burnt out. I am the receptionist so I have 90 needy customers per day, many of whom are mad, plus I am in the facilities department so there are 80 needy employees who always need their stuff taken care of "immediately." I try to set boundaries, explain that they will have to wait their turn, and I give people a lot of crap when they don't refer to me by my name don't say thank you, or request something of me before I've even put my keys down in the morning.

    I do not work overtime by choice and I leave work at 5:00pm on the button. I am back in the habit of taking my lunch hour every single day. I keep my home life as my own. I have many hobbies that I love, especially quilting and training my dog. I have a great husband and a good support group of friends. When I find myself getting really irritated (almost daily it seems) I try to use visualization techniques to calm down. Heck, I even get a 20 minute massage each week. (Another benefit of the company.) I feel like I'm doing everything I possibly can to set boundaries and take care of myself first.

    But I'm still burning out. Still hating my job.

    I often feel that I'm going to pull my hair out if one more person asks me to do one more stupid, petty thing. We have catered lunches every single day, and if I hear one more complaint about the type of bread, or why they don't like a certain kind of food, I'm going to explode. If I get one more customer who drops the F-bomb because they can't get their product IMMEDIATLY, I'm really going to lose it. I'm in the process of seeking counseling through the employee assistant program, too, did I mention that?

    I know that when I become a nurse, I will have lots of needy families, patients, doctors, etc. pulling me in all directions, many of whom will have "petty" requests. I am starting to think now, about how to avoid burnout in the healthcare world. I'm worried, because this will be my second bachelor's degree, and I really want to make it work. I have been looking forward to it for several years now. What can I do? Does it help that the stakes a bit higher in healthcare? Or am I just dreaming? Any advice is greatly, greatly appreciated. As I've said, I really want to make my career work, so I have to start working on avoiding burnout now.

    Thanks a lot, everyone!
  2. Visit TemperStripe profile page

    About TemperStripe

    Joined: Apr '06; Posts: 156; Likes: 71


  3. by   locolorenzo22
    I think that really placing yourself in patient/family shoes is helpful, and not trying to DROP everything you're doing for one patient request that is not IMMEDIATELY important. You somedays do not get a break and have to sneak food when you can...5 mins here, 10 mins there...etc.
    Really, as long as you have outside interests from work/school, you should be ok....I need to get back in the habit of writing poetry...haven't done that for a while....
  4. by   nursegirlte
    Congrats on pursuing nursing school. For me, I had no idea what was involved when I began, but shortly after starting clinicals and classwork, etc you realize that nursing is a demanding career. I am sure that you already realize that though. I would also like to say that I used to be one to snap at people and to think that their issues were petty too, but what I realize in nursing is that yes everyone wants to pull you in a million different directions and everyone's issues are the most important but you have to stop and realize that, within reason, these are patients and families and they are all concerned about their own important issues and they do not see the big picture. They do not see that you have 6 patients, with 6 other family member, and 12 doctors, and charge nurses, etc. etc. So you do have to set some boundaries and know your own limitations. When you feel that you are too stressed and are about to explode, take some time for yourself. Tell another nurse that you need a break, and take one. I know that you are super busy all the time and that may seem impossible, but you are the one that is in charge of you and you are the only one that will take time for yourself. So do it. Regardless of how guilty others try to make you feel about taking a break, do it for yourself. Also, excercise assertiveness, let people know, in a nice way, when they are out of line so that they can realize what they are doing, and hopefully next time perhaps they will act a bit differently when they think of how you reacted to them the first time.
    Outside of work it is important for you to take time for yourself too!! Do something that you like to do that does not require you to GIVE GIVE GIVE more of yourself. Do something that helps to fill you up again too.
    Sorry this is so long...Good luck.
  5. by   psalm
    This may not be specific, but it has helped me. Read stories that THANK NURSES!!! I thought of this at church today when fellow military veterans and I were thanked publicly for our service.

    Check out songs that thank nurses. An unusual place would be Country Joe of Country Joe and the Fish. He has some songs about nurses on his web site...Clara Barton, Lady with the Lamp, The Girl Next Door (Army combat nurse).

    Check out:

    Or use your search engine for country joe and the fish AND nurse. Pretty cool.
  6. by   psalm
    Oops, it is just and check out his nurse doll collection!
  7. by   lisabeth
    I was in your spot exactly. I loved the people I worked for, but the phones nearly drove me crazy. I was to the point of being rude and literally connected the clients through to the legal assts. before they were finished telling me about their situation. I wasnt supposed to listen to them for confidentiality, but I really cut them off in a bad way.
    I am glad I never got in trouble. I was working for 7 attorneys, so those phones rang all day.
    There is no way I could have coninued that job while going to school. I miss the people, and the money, and those Christmas bonuses were awsome.
    If I were you, I would try to find some other kind of job. What about a tech at a hospital? One of my friends does that, and they work around her school schedule. Besides, you will be getting some experience. It has helped her a lot. I wish I had done that before I got accepted.
    Good luck.
  8. by   jessi1106
    There are SO many career opportunities in nursing, and some nursing positions deal less with pts and family ~ one does not even ever have to work in a hospital (home health care etc) I'd consider the wide range of opportunities within the career. Best of luck to you!
  9. by   TemperStripe
    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    I started nursing school last week, and also quit my old job that was making me crazy. When I'm working full time again, I'm going to be focusing hard on boundaries and job ambiguity issues. I'm really enjoying being away from an office setting, though, and really, REALLY enjoying school (especially pathophysiology!)

    Thanks again!
    Line Just Line
  10. by   teeituptom
    I dont believe in burnout

    I just play more golf and exercise more
  11. by   Asklepios
    I am starting Nsg school in September, and will be leaving the job I've had for 10 years in order to do it. My current job is extremely stressful and there's no way I could stay there and do school full time.

    One of things I've noticed a colleague of mine doing - he sets a cut off time for working. This is especially important for us, since we work in and out of the office and have laptops to work at home. He makes sure that he is cleaning up whatever he has going on by 4:30 so that by 5pm he can shut down and call it a day. He also makes sure that no matter how many appointments he has to do, he sets aside one day per week for catching up on paperwork. I have been doing these things and it helps.

    As for nursing, I know it's going to be a stressful job, maybe as stressful as my current one. But one advantage I see is - they can't make me wheel the patients home with me! When I walk out the door at the end of my shift, I know I am getting away from it until I go back again.
  12. by   Medicine Eagle
    Don't mean to be a downer, but stay away from the ER if you don't handle stress and chaos well. I love it but everyone thinks they are emergent. That is why they are there. In 8 years I can count how many times I have had lunch on my fingers. I do demand at least 5 minute breaks several times a shift. At the level 1 trauma I worked at the only food we got was tapping into the pt supply of crackers. We were lucky to get that. I once almost lost bladder control b/c I had worked so long with a full bladder. I then had a MI come in that was critical. I told my charge nurse at that point that if he made me wet my pants I was going home! He said to go take a break. I have found in nursing if you will take it they will pile it on you. Start now learning to prioritize critical from not critical. Also learn to get tough skin. The nurses here are good. However, you will run into the "nurses that eat their young". Good luck.