5 Signs of Burnout
Jennifer L.W. Fink | NursingLink
Warning Sign #4: You’re Going Through the Motions
Remember how inspired and motivated you were after nursing school? Every patient encounter was an opportunity for patient teaching, and you couldn’t wait to try out new procedures. You spent spare moments at your patients’ bedsides, looking at photos of their grandchildren, just because. Now, you pass your meds as quickly as possible, check items off your to-do list and try to avoid any unnecessary interaction (with your patients or your colleagues).
Pulling back is actually an adaptive response. On some level, your body and mind recognizes your work situation as stressful, so you spend as little time and energy on it as possible. The problem is that doing the bare minimum can get you fired. At the very least, it leads to poor patient care.
If you notice yourself simply going through the motions at work, schedule an appointment with your nurse manager or a mentor to discuss your observation. Don’t be afraid to utter the word “burnout” in your meeting. Together, try to develop a plan that will address your stress.
Warning Sign #5: You’re Becoming Insensitive to Your Patients
The day you stop feeling compassion for your patients is the day you need to stop – at least temporarily. Burnout typically progresses through four stages: physical and mental exhaustion, shame and doubt, cynicism and callousness, and failure, helplessness and crisis. By the time you start to feel cynical (Why is he in here? He’s never going to get better anyway.), you’re already well along the path to full-fledged burnout.
If you can, take a break. Everyone – even nurses! – needs the occasional mental health day. Reach out to others. Discuss your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or colleague. Burn out is NOT a moral failing; it’s a sign that something needs to change. Consider calling the employee assistance program or scheduling an appointment with a counselor to help your work through your emotions and develop a plan for healing.