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just got proof that burnout does not have to be fatal

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Up until recently I thought that nurses with the more sever type of burn out "the crispy kind" had to move on to another type of postion or maybe out of nursing completely. However, I am working with a nurse that is over coming burnout while keeping her postion. Here is how she did it. First she recognized the signs. Then she went into therapy. She actually followed the advice of the therapist. She learned to say NO. Full time people are required to be on one committee. She was on four. She resigned from three of them and stayed with the one she liked. Then she announced to the NM that she was no longer going to be responsible for doing schedules for the entire unit. The task was reassigned to others. She also announced to the NM that she was no longer going to keep silent about those days when she found herself to be the only RN on the unit. No one else put up with this but her and when she finally made a fuss it changed. She also really cut back on extra shifts and staying late to help out. The biggest thing I can see is that she is developing outside interest. Stuff she always wanted to do like cooking classes and learning to ride a horse are now what she does on her days off. When she takes a vacation she gets out of town so that she does not get called in because "we are desperate". I see a big difference in her and she is not nearly so grumpy and unhappy, her work is better than ever even though it was always good. I have to say that she is in a half way decent position and it was worth trying to save it. Management valued her enough to work with her. My hat is off to her. I must admit that some positions are so bad and managment is so awful that there is nothing to do but move on to another place. Glad to see that this nurse proved me wrong in my original assumption about burnout being fatal to ones career. :balloons:

talaxandra

Specializes in Medical.

Excellent :) And not only that, she's a role model for her colleagues about how to manage burn out

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

Wonderful post, Oramar. Thanks so much for sharing :) It is encouraging for all of us, as we all will face burn-out at some time or other as nurses.

I forgot to mention friends and family. This nurse has worked for others many times so they could go to social events that were important to them. I noticed this weekend she called in a favor and attended a party at a friends. The person who covered her shift for her really owed her for several similar favors. If you are a nurse you are going to miss some social events but you should not be missing all of them. If you are you are playing the martyer and it can contribute to burnout.

Thanks Oramar-- I'm just starting a new nursing position and had been extra crispy after my last job. I will keep those pointers in mind when I start to feel that way and hopefully head off full blown burnout.

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 28 years experience.

Good post. We have to look after ourselves.

Antikigirl, ASN, RN

Specializes in Education, Acute, Med/Surg, Tele, etc. Has 13 years experience.

Yeah...after a huge re-management of my entire facility towards a more economic standpoint vs quality (in other words they went CHEAP and no benifits for employees) I burned out over the course of a year!

Then I finally snapped! I had it! I was so discouraged with nursing that I started looking again for another job, and only to be denied because I was wrongfully labeled by some idiot non-medic human resource jerk "only a rest home nurse"..and well, we are talking DENIED at most hospials or clinics! I said oh heck with this...I am a nurse with 5 years under my belt, and now I am stuck..NO WAY! I wanted to leave this horrid field (so I felt)...but then hubby had a heart attack (he is a okay now thank goodness) and well..I didn't have a choice!

I then realized...the work my company was having me multitask was too much. SO I discussed it with my DON and said "what are my priorities when I am filling in for floor nurse?" She said patient care!!! I told her "then that is what I am going to do...so if you want me to do all those other paperwork items I use to do..well, then talk to scheduling and your boss and schedule me for this, other than that..that paperwork is NOT my priority but tending 160 patients a day is!!!!!!". Needless to say they go the hint...well that and the look on my face like "do it..fire me...go ahead!"...now they schedule me 5 days a month for my paperwork job! YEAH! AND they don't have me do my mound of paperwork during days I am floor nurse (BTW for folks that know my story...they hired a swing shift nurse!!!!!!!! YEAHHHHH....but I am still floor till they find a day nurse...so this is a bit of a relief for all us nurses...and hope that we will find a day nurse so I can return to my admin job!!!!!! Wish me luck..last time the nurse didn't show up for her first day and never called..LOL!).

The floor is still very stressful with only me as the shift nurse, but at least I have 1/2 the weight on my own shoulders as I did a few months ago! I simply sat back..got a set of 'kahoonas' so they say..and asked a questions that helped me get my goal before I simply ran off at the mouth about how unfair it was...whew!

I find it comes with experience and knowing your limits..and lots of crafty diplomatic style communications..LOL! HEck we nurses can do that!!!! LOL! So far so good, I am not as stressed at work and things look a bit brighter!

I am still very upset at the situation of me being labeled as "rest home nurse" which seems to be akin to CNA to most human resource places...but I realized..that isn't nursings probelm, but that particular facilities probelm and I am best to leave that one alone by never working there ever! Yep..most times it isn't really a 'nursing' probelm as much as it is letting people walk on you, giving a inch and them taking 2.5 of a mile, not sticking up for yourself, fear, and particular administrative practices of that area!

Will I be a nurse for the rest of my career though? NO! I can't see myself doing this for very much longer...some parts yes, others no...unless something changes and comes my way where my unique tallents can be used and a feeling of self achievement reborn after some of the crud I have been though in my short career as a nurse! Naaaaa..I will give what I can, then leave with a smile on my face and say "well done...now onto your new adventure!" Hey, some folks are made to do this life long...me, I am too interested in experiencing what I can with the time I have...there are things I wish to do, and some involve NOT being everyones Nurse ;)...

Roy Fokker, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER/Trauma.

Up until recently I thought that nurses with the more sever type of burn out "the crispy kind" had to move on to another type of postion or maybe out of nursing completely. However, I am working with a nurse that is over coming burnout while keeping her postion. Here is how she did it. First she recognized the signs. Then she went into therapy. She actually followed the advice of the therapist. She learned to say NO. Full time people are required to be on one committee. She was on four. She resigned from three of them and stayed with the one she liked. Then she announced to the NM that she was no longer going to be responsible for doing schedules for the entire unit. The task was reassigned to others. She also announced to the NM that she was no longer going to keep silent about those days when she found herself to be the only RN on the unit. No one else put up with this but her and when she finally made a fuss it changed. She also really cut back on extra shifts and staying late to help out. The biggest thing I can see is that she is developing outside interest. Stuff she always wanted to do like cooking classes and learning to ride a horse are now what she does on her days off. When she takes a vacation she gets out of town so that she does not get called in because "we are desperate". I see a big difference in her and she is not nearly so grumpy and unhappy, her work is better than ever even though it was always good. I have to say that she is in a half way decent position and it was worth trying to save it. Management valued her enough to work with her. My hat is off to her. I must admit that some positions are so bad and managment is so awful that there is nothing to do but move on to another place. Glad to see that this nurse proved me wrong in my original assumption about burnout being fatal to ones career. :balloons:
Wow! Thanks for that post. Mosre things to file away and keep in mind when I start working! :D

Premrns :: I'm kinda torn, but I'd basically agree with your sentiment expressed in your signature :D

The thing that made me leave for 6 months, was, not administration policies, OT, patient care, ratios, etc.

What made me leave, was the constant complaining from our very own Nurses! Yeah, no lie. It was getting me down, until I didn't want to "come here anymore" either. There had been a small staff change which, I guess tipped the balance, and the there were way too much complaining, and work was no longer fun.

Well, after 6 months, I had to come back. But, I made the decision to join the Float Pool at our hospital. What a relief! I just decided that I would hang out with my patients when I owrked 3-11. I always bring my nursing journals with me if I am working 11-7...just in case...there is downtime at night.

This worked for me. I have learned to block out the complainers, as much as I can. I try to set a good example. I work to encourage and teach the nursing students who are working as aides, etc. I get to keep up in numerous areas of nursing. It also helps me keep things in perspective. When you are in one specialty area, or, one shift, you tend to see things from that perspective only.

Up until recently I thought that nurses with the more sever type of burn out "the crispy kind" had to move on to another type of postion or maybe out of nursing completely. However, I am working with a nurse that is over coming burnout while keeping her postion. Here is how she did it. First she recognized the signs. Then she went into therapy. She actually followed the advice of the therapist. She learned to say NO. Full time people are required to be on one committee. She was on four. She resigned from three of them and stayed with the one she liked. Then she announced to the NM that she was no longer going to be responsible for doing schedules for the entire unit. The task was reassigned to others. She also announced to the NM that she was no longer going to keep silent about those days when she found herself to be the only RN on the unit. No one else put up with this but her and when she finally made a fuss it changed. She also really cut back on extra shifts and staying late to help out. The biggest thing I can see is that she is developing outside interest. Stuff she always wanted to do like cooking classes and learning to ride a horse are now what she does on her days off. When she takes a vacation she gets out of town so that she does not get called in because "we are desperate". I see a big difference in her and she is not nearly so grumpy and unhappy, her work is better than ever even though it was always good. I have to say that she is in a half way decent position and it was worth trying to save it. Management valued her enough to work with her. My hat is off to her. I must admit that some positions are so bad and managment is so awful that there is nothing to do but move on to another place. Glad to see that this nurse proved me wrong in my original assumption about burnout being fatal to ones career. :balloons:

Thank goodness she had the courage to see a therapist; I'm of the opinion that we all can benefit from therapy. It sounds like she is on the road to recovering from her co-dependency, and that's a great thing. Many of us nurses are, or have been, co-dependent, and that's a sure path to burnout. She is a real role model for her co-workers and I'm glad you shared this story.

meownsmile, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho.

It would be nice if more nurses would recognize the signs of their own burnout before they go "crispy".

3 years into my RN, after 10 as a LPN,, i saw myself starting to burn. Staying late to finish up, stressing over to many patients and not enough time. I stayed in the position but came to the realization that i am ONLY 1 person, i cant do the work of 3 and wont be pushed into it. I take one thing at a time and dont let myself get rushed and let stress take over. I leave basically ON time and dont sweat the small stuff if i have to leave a few things for the next shift. I dont let myself get guilted into taking extra shifts if it means my family will come second. I just say NO, no excuses, no regrets. Plus,, if we continue to pull up the slack they(facilities) keep letting themselves get into by not finding some more staff, we victimize ourselves.

Remember you arent really taking care of anyone if you dont take care of yourself first.

The thing that made me leave for 6 months, was, not administration policies, OT, patient care, ratios, etc.

What made me leave, was the constant complaining from our very own Nurses! Yeah, no lie. It was getting me down, until I didn't want to "come here anymore" either.

Good point. Our work is sooo difficult and demanding that complaining on the job just drains away our precious energy. Better to make a productive helpful decision like limiting OT and duties than to complain without any action. :)

I have learned over the years though, that we all need a safe place to vent but we also need to be aware if we are draining colleagues of energy...not good.

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

Great article! :)

Rx for Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue describes the emotional, physical, social and spiritual exhaustion that overtakes a person and causes a pervasive decline in his or her desire, ability and energy to feel and care for others. Such fatigue causes the sufferer to lose the ability to experience satisfaction or joy professionally or personally. Compassion fatigue is not pathological in the sense of mental illness, but is considered a natural behavioral and emotional response that results from helping or desiring to help another person suffering trauma or pain....

Burnout has been associated with the routine hassles of nursing work such as dealing with time pressures, managing complex patient loads or coordinating care with other departments and team members. This condition reminds us of a candle that goes out because the wax has been used up. We say the candle is "burned out." Similarly, we refer to the grass in our lawn as being burned out in late summer due to the stress of high heat and decreased rainfall. Situations in which nurses experience powerlessness, frustration and difficulty in meeting personal and professional expectations can lead to burnout. Burnout can be experienced by anyone, but in nursing it is seen as a predictable phenomenon that results from the intensity and conditions of our work. Nurses who are burned out usually become less empathetic to their patients and display negative behaviors toward coworkers. As a less complicated response to the demands of nursing, making changes in the work environment, taking a vacation or changing jobs can help the nurse with burnout to recover.

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