According to a study done in 2011 by the American Nurses Association, three out of four nurses experience burnout. With staffing ratios, the aging population and a shift in care delivery models today’s nurse often experiences stress and overwhelm. While these external factors can create exhaustion in nursing staff, the sheer experience of being a ‘nurse’ can throw any professional over the edge.
Think about it. What is the reason that most nurses go into the profession in the first place? To provide quality care, taking care of another human being’s life. Nurses, for the most part, desire to help. This could very well be the reason so many nurses burn out. We’re notorious for taking care of everyone else, but ourselves!
In fact, once a new nurse graduates nursing school, they often become consumed with work. It’s all about orienting to the new profession, getting along with the healthcare team and keeping up with professional skills and knowledge. The learning never ends. Neither does the ‘nursing’, it seems.
I recently came across this lovely post that reminds us as nurses to look beyond our careers. The author, Diane Goodman, reminds us to stop and ‘smell the roses’ from time-to-time. Enjoy life outside of our nursing careers. She reminds us that as nurses, we need to fill ourselves up, in order to ensure we can continue to provide that great care. While this article provides some wonderful suggestions to support nurse burnout, I’d like to offer you three more tips to share with your nursing teams.
- Encourage a Healthy Pace. Did you know it’s literally impossible to multi-task? That’s right. Our brain is unable to focus on more than one thing at a time. According to research presented in this NPR article, human beings simply switch back and forth from one task to another at incredibly fast speeds. So when nursing staff is made to multi-task throughout the day, they are literally being set up to fail. How can you support your nursing team? By encouraging them to slow down. Yes, it sounds counterproductive, AND it works. So how can you help? Introduce a mindful pause before each committee meeting. Teach nurses how to focus on the breath before leaving shift report. Encourage your staff to ground into their feet and feel the physical body while they pull medications. There are many ways to do this so that your nurses can feel less rushed. And get more done in an efficient way!
- Help them Shift Focus. What tends to happen in nursing? We talk about budgetary cuts. We run out of supplies and struggle to get the central storage department to restock. We never have enough staff. What do all of these statements have in common? They are fear based and focused on lack. They call our attention to what we don’t have. Universal laws and the laws of physics cover this, however, I found this quote from Oprah Winfrey that says it best: “What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.” Work with your nursing team to shift their focus. Pay attention to what is going well. Highlight the strengths of your nursing staff. Start talking about what you do want to see happen… and enjoy more of it!
- Be a Role-Model. Reading several self-development and financial growth books, I have come across some common information. Did you know that we pick up the majority of our information in our formative years? That’s right… from infancy through age seven, we are like human sponges. Now, we cannot even walk, let alone talk, during these early stages of life. However, we learn more from what we see and experience. If you want to help your nursing team prevent burnout, you’ve got to model healthy behaviors yourself. Talk a walk during your lunch break. Bring healthy snacks to work and drink water all day. Get enough rest and be sure to leave the hospital on time! Do as many self-care activities as you can and encourage your staff to do the same. They will do what they see so be sure to provide a living example of self-care and work-life balance.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Which tips above have you tried with your nursing team? What others would you add to this list? Please share a comment below with a burnout prevention tip used by your nursing staff.
About the Author: As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and virtual conference host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. During the National Nurse’s Week online conference, ‘The Art of Nursing‘, Elizabeth supports nurses in achieving professional goals of continued learning and development. Click here to find out more about how The Art of Nursing appreciates and celebrates our profession in a meaningful way.