Nursing can be an extremely rewarding career path; however, the daily grind of the job can wear individuals down over the course of time causing feelings of exhaustion, depression or even reduced self-confidence. A 2018 Gallup study revealed that two-thirds of full-time workers feel the effects of burnout at their job, showing this is a common, yet undesirable state of affairs.
Given that patient satisfaction is a key element to success, making sure your nursing staff is able to give top-notch care is critical, although this ability can be impeded if they are being overworked, underappreciated or experiencing Burnout Syndrome. If your organization has a goal of high standards in excellence and puts a heavy focus on improving HCAHPS scores, then keeping staff morale positive should be an organizational goal as well.
In order to combat this issue, it is important to understand what burnout is. The American Thoracic Society describes Burnout Syndrome (BOS) as a three-symptom development: exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment that can be initiated by a discrepancy between the expectations of the employee and the actual requirements of the role.
Know the Signs and Symptoms
For some, the feeling of career burnout is recognized in the late stages, making it that much harder (but still very possible) to change for the better. Early interventions to some of the signs and symptoms can not only help reduce the likelihood of experiencing BOS, but it can also assist to increase overall happiness levels or even career satisfaction.
Psychology Today breaks down some of the noticeable signs of burnout by the three categories they typically show through:
- Physical and Emotional Exhaustion – Chronic fatigue, forgetfulness or impaired concentration, physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, etc.; diminished immune system, loss of appetite, anxiety or depression.
- Signs of Detachment – decreased enjoyment, isolation or self-degradation.
- Reduced Feelings of Accomplishment – Apathetic feelings, irritability or lack of productivity.
How to Help Avoid Burnout in Your Organization
Since BOS may stem from an inconsistency between job description and actual functionality, making sure expectations are clearly outlined and measured based on job role can help ensure everyone is on the same page. Check-ins with nursing staff during reviews throughout the year could be beneficial to get a sense if staff members are experiencing warning signs of BOS.
Along with personal reviews, another positive impact approach is fostering an environment that enables nurses to experience higher levels of self-efficacy and autonomy. A study published in Health Care Management Review concluded that “relational occupational coping self-efficacy is an important protective factor against negative work behavior.”
Ways to Combat BOS as an Individual
As an individual there are a lot of reasons stress can be brought about in your life. Taking time to reflect in order to find the source of stress can be a great start to see if the point of issue can easily be spotted and removed. Additionally, taking time for self-care as a nurse can also be extremely beneficial to your mental and physical health.
Other ways to help combat burnout and rekindle your excitement can include joining a social group different from your professional peers, reducing the amount of technology used outside of work, avoid bringing work home, finding a professional mentor or even getting more exposure to nature through hikes or scenic drives.
At the end of the day, it seems that no one is truly immune to Burnout Syndrome; however, implementing some small changes in everyday life and listening to your team’s pain points may help reduce chances of BOS growing in your organization. And by helping reduce unnecessary stressors on your team, you can help enable your team of nurses to provide the best patient