Burnout has been a topic well researched starting with Maslach, Jackson, Leiter, Schaufeli, and Schwab (1986). As someone who has been reading literature and spending a tremendous amount of time over the past few years thinking about burnout, I have often been asked what is the cure or the preventative actions. The research is consistent in establishing the existence of burnout and the all too commonality of it.
In my reading, I found articles reporting nursing student burnout. Recent research is attempting to pinpoint where it begins for nurses, before graduation during the educative process? Or as a graduate nurse? The article I wrote recently and published here in allnurses.com titled "Are Nursing Students Burned Out Before or After They Graduate?" (2020) does delve into the topic with much greater depth. Currently, there are many more questions about student nurses and burnout than answers.
Change in Mindset?
Another nurse posted a question in allnurses.com (Destin293, March 17, 2019) "Burnout...what to do about it" had a respondent that stated “There is nothing wrong with YOU or your very reasonable feelings about this. Burnout is not the appropriate label for it. Chin up. Put your confidence and self-worth back in order, as this weight is not yours to bear. You have no professional duty to imposed nonsense. Instead be impowered. Formulate plan B and put it into action” (JKL33, March 17, 2019). A response that is well-meaning but not helpful. If burnout is the perceived experience, it is the individual’s state of being. And the description of burnout as put forth by Maslach et al. (1986) is one the encompasses an individual incapable of self-directed action as described by the respondent above.
However, the respondent that posted the above comment is not alone, many believe that burnout can be defeated with a positive attitude or thinking, pulling oneself up by bootstraps or change of outlook. Maslach et al.’s (1986) beginning and subsequent work along with a plethora of other researchers have established the construct of burnout as valid with many different mediating factors. Little research has found burnout to be mediated simply by a change in mindset.
Self-Care and Mindfulness
Some recent study, however, has explored the impact of preventative measures for nursing students e.g. self-care (Nevins et al., 2019) and mindfulness for nurses Montanari, Bowe, Chesak & Cutshall, 2019). Nevins et al. (2019) reported that an increase in exercise and hydration in baccalaureate nursing students did increase students’ described levels of wellness. Montantari et al. (2019) found that nurses’ use of mindfulness “positive implications for the well-being of nurses” to stress and burnout (p. 175). Increased resilience in nurses mediated burnout (Guo et al., 2019). All increase my hopefulness that research is on track to illuminate a burnout preventative pathway.
Additionally, my literature reading has included the topic I plan to research, nursing faculty member burnout. Aquino, Young-Me, Spawn, and Bishop-Royse (2018) found in their descriptive survey study of doctorate nursing faculty members’ intent to leave their academic position that degree type, age, and burnout were significant predictors. Their recommendations in addressing the nursing faculty member shortage as “critical to creat[ing] supportive and positive work environments to promote the well-being of nursing faculty” (p. 35).
I have found the reading and contemplating burnout and nursing faculty members’ possible experience of it as interesting. The plethora of burnout research mentioned previously consists primarily of educators and healthcare providers as subjects. Little burnout research is of nursing faculty members despite the “great demands placed on many nursing faculty” (Aquino, Young-Me, Spawn & Bishop-Royse, 2018, p. 35).
My doctorate topic is nursing faculty member burnout. I plan to offer qualifying allnurse.com members access to a survey. The qualifications include current full-time employment and one year of experience as a nursing faculty member. Interested? It is coming soon.