Got nurse burnout? And if you did or do, who do you expect to fix it? Your employer? Your boss?
Sometimes when we have something happening in our life that we do not enjoy, we look all over the place for help. I can speak to this because I have done it myself.
My Burnout Story
I go into my nurse burnout story in my book, Stop Nurse Burnout, so I will not go into the FULL details here. However, just as an overview and how it pertains to this blog post…
Yup, I am raising my hand here. Back when I was experiencing the most miserable point in my career- my all time low- I blamed everyone and anybody. I looked left, right, up, and down for other people to point fingers at.
It was my hospital that did not care about me. My nurse manager who was unfair. The people I worked with did everything wrong. I was working on the most terrible nursing unit ever. And guess what?
Turns out that this was NOT the case! In fact, as of this blog post’s writing, I have been back to that unit. I am colleagues with my past co-workers. I sit on committees and have worked on projects with the very people I expected to fix my nurse burnout problems.
We Expect Others to Fix Our Burnout
A few months ago, I wrote a post called “The Way We Think About Nurse Burnout is Broken.” In that article, I articulated that there were many issues with nurse burnout and shared with my readers that I would tackle each of the bullet points one month at a time, creating a burnout series.
This month we are covering the “We Expect Others to Fix It” topic. The way I described this challenge was in the following:
“While I do believe that the nursing profession, hospital systems, individual organizations, and nursing leadership and management need to support the individual nurse in their well-being- it is ultimately up to the nurse to be accountable for their own health. A nurse who thinks, feels, acts as though they are the victim of burnout and that someone else caused them to experience it- is much less likely to turn things around and find any relief from the stressors of burnout.”
Choose Personal Responsibility
Now, I do realize that the above may upset some nurses. I get it. Conditions are harsh. Stigma is real. It may even be unsafe where you work. I can empathize with that.
And, at the same time, I do believe we have a choice. We can choose to continue to fall victim to the nurse burnout conditions that we experience in our workplace. Or we can choose to do something different. No one can live your life for you.
Stated similarly from the above, a nurse who feels that they are the victim of burnout because of some external circumstance (e.g. organization, department, unit, management, colleagues, or patients) and does nothing about it… well, then I do believe that is on them.
We all wake up in the morning and experience choice. Millions of choices a day. We can choose to continue employment in a terrible job or we can make a change. For me, because I value my life and want to enjoy as much of it as humanly possible, I would likely choose the latter.
Fix Your Nurse Burnout Situation
OK, let’s imagine that you are still reading along with me and have not thrown your computer across the room. Let’s move forward then with some strategies. I would like to offer you support in fixing your burnout situation, should you find yourself in one.
[Tweet “Here Are 4 Steps to Take to Fix Nurse Burnout”]
How bad is it? Are you at your wits end? Is there no one safe to talk to at work? Do you feel that if you admit to feeling burned out you will be ridiculed, excluded, or even persecuted?
If that is the case… then it is time that you look for a new nursing job! I mean, right now. Get out of there. And fast. This is not a supportive work environment and it is unhealthy for you to be there another minute.
2) Assess Your Self.
This goes back to what I shared above about my own burnout story. Remember, I was the one pointing fingers at everybody else. With time and a fresh perspective, I realized… my goodness. That place wasn’t so bad after all! It was me!!
Now, I am not saying it is ALL you. Sure, there may be some issues with your workplace. No job is 100% perfect. Let’s be real. Every workplace has stress.
My point here is take time to do some introspection and self-reflection. Do you always see things as negative? Are you constantly viewing the bad in other people? Is there something that you could do to change your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?
If this is the case, you are not alone. In fact, I have dedicated my entire career here at Nursing from Within to helping nurses shift their perspective. I truly believe that when we change what is on the inside, we change the outside. By shifting our thoughts and feelings, we can show up at work a different person. I have done this myself and it feels AMAZING each and every day! (Let me know if you need help.)
3) Commit to A Self-Care Practice.
A routine self-care practice. And notice above I said “a”. I mean it. Just one.
When we get the idea in our head that we want to make a change in our lives, we try to do too much too fast. And then, guess what? We burn ourselves out on that! Then we slide back into old behaviors, making no lasting changes at all.
So, if you want to fix your burnout situation, do one thing at a time. I would recommend grabbing a copy of Stop Nurse Burnout and finding a burnout prevention strategy that works for you. There are dozens of them in the book and no one strategy is for everyone. Rather than me listing them ALL out here, get a copy and find what works for you.
4) Get A Buddy.
There is a reason that 12-step programs have had so much success over the years. One of the main components of programs like AA or NA is that you have a sponsor. Another one is that you go to meetings and share.
If you want to fix your burnout situation, you need to tell someone that you are doing it. Now, I would be careful who you tell. Some people do not have your best interests at heart. And they will try to sabotage you, whether it be through ridicule or disbelief. That being said, I am sure that you can find ONE trusted person in your life.
An added bonus would be if you were able to find another nurse to partner up with. That way the two of you can choose a burnout prevention strategy (it doesn’t have to be the same one for both of you) and then check in from time-to-time to give progress reports on how you are doing.
Accountability is crucial. I check in with other nurse business owners, my business coach, and even my husband on a regular basis. This keeps me moving forward with my business goals. It keeps me taking action and making progress towards the things that I want out of life!
Well, we did it. And I am sure we missed something. Let’s hear from you! Have you ever experienced nurse burnout? What did you do to prevent, avoid, or end it? What can you share with our readers to help them put a stop to nursing burnout?
About the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Nurse’s Week program, The Art of Nursing, Elizabeth supports nursing organizations in celebrating and recognizing their staff in a meaningful way. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.