The year 2020 was deemed the “Year of the Nurse” by the World Health Organization. For a split second we all thought it was finally time to celebrate the history and everyday accomplishments that nurses play in healthcare. Unfortunately, we never got that chance. As fast as the year started, we were quickly overwhelmed by an immediate threat – COVID.
It’s been a year since the nightmare began. Nurses have been tested emotionally, physically, and spiritually in ways that we haven’t before. The topic of nurse burnout is expressed, experienced, and very real. Understanding what is causing it and how to prevent nurse burnout is a discussion that’s long overdue.
Even before the pandemic, nurses have been experiencing burnout at an alarming rate. According to a study published in October 4, 2020 by Lesly A. Kelly, PhD, RN, FAAN, Perry M. Gee, PhD, RN, and Richard J. Butler, PhD, in the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection, the study found that 54% of nurses were experiencing burnout even before the pandemic. We’ve all seen a combination, of these burnout symptoms in our co-workers or maybe you’re experiencing it personally.
Overworking is Dangerous
With nursing units combating staffing shortages due to increases in patient acuity and censuses, nurses are being asked to come into work on their days off, to help their fellow nurses so that patients are taken care of. Sometimes nurses agree to working overtime, not only for the financial benefit, but also from guilt of leaving their co-workers high and dry because we can all relate to how difficult it is to work short-staffed.
Bedside nursing, is a taxing profession requiring clinicians to work long hours in high stress environments. Adding to nurse burnout is not only the stress of patient care, but also:
We face mortality, humanity, and disease on a daily basis, and this is not a normal human experience. The traumas experienced day-to-day stack up and initially affect our mental well-being of nurses. It’s no wonder that nurses experience chronic stress, anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts.
The first step in combating nursing burnout is to recognize and be aware that you’re experiencing the symptoms of burnout. Burnout manifests in everyone differently, but it’s easy to recognize when nurses are short with one another, unenthusiastic at work, frustrated or upset easily, and feel of dissatisfied. These feelings are often projected onto the loved ones of nurses.
Most nurses think it is acceptable to be overworked, feel underappreciated, and undervalued in the workplace, but this is a professional culture that we MUST change in order to positively impact patient care, improve staff retention, and mental well-being.
Here are some tips to help prevent nurse burnout:
If you find yourself burnt out at your current staff job with feelings of exhaustion, cynicism, and lacking personal accomplishment, maybe travel nursing could be the answer in how to prevent nurse burnout.
More and more nurses are turning to travel nursing to help prevent or heal the symptoms of burnout. While travel nursing isn’t necessarily the answer to the root of burnout, it does provide nurses with several pros to a more fulfilling professional and personal life.
Travel nursing affords you many benefits, flexibility, more control over your career and your health!
Travel nursing is exciting, but one of the most common challenges we face is loneliness. Travel nurses commonly have difficulty with finding a sense of community or close interpersonal relationships within their new city or assignment. Because the travel nurse lifestyle is transient and temporary, finding a close community poses a big challenge for many.
Travel nurses usually find each other through orientation or social media. Depending on how remote the area travel nurses are in, this may pose another obstacle to finding community. A positive travel nurse experience can be enhanced or hindered by having someone to relate and experience things with. The unique lifestyle is one that very few people truly understand like another traveler nurse can.
Having strong ties to a travel nurse community helps mitigate feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression and support mental wellness. Two travel nurses, Emily Cheng and Ryan Cogdill felt this loneliness. Their experiences led them to create MedVenture App, a mobile app that provides community and resources to empower traveling healthcare professionals, no matter where they travel to.
MedVenture believes that alone travel nurses are strong, but together we are unstoppable. And the loneliness, anxiety, and depression sometimes experienced as travel nurses shouldn’t be experienced without someone who’s there to tell you that you’re not alone in the journey. The travel nurse journey isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but MedVenture App gives travel nurses personal support by connecting you to other travel nurses in your area. Having a travel buddy and friend to lean on makes all the difference to prevent nurse burnout.
Check out MedVenture App and download MedVenture for free on both the iOS and Android app stores!
Thank you to Kamana partners Emily Cheng and Ryan Cogdill, MedVenture co-founders, for contributing the content of this blog. Mental health, burnout, and community support are topics that need to be acknowledged and discussed more often.
About Emily Cheng, BSN, RN, CCRN-CSC
Emily Cheng is a CVICU traveling nurse born and raised in New York. She has been a travel nurse for 2.5 years and has been travel nursing in Napa & San Francisco, California, Seattle, Washington, and Oahu, Hawai’i. She is the co-founder for MedVenture App, an app to unite all traveling healthcare professionals. Having experienced loneliness, confusion, and frustration in scattered resources, she is excited about how MedVenture will help her fellow travelers and empower travelers to come. When she’s not at the hospital or working on MedVenture, you can find her hiking, backpacking, or enjoying the outdoors in some capacity!
About Ryan Cogdill, BSN, RN
Ryan Cogdill is a PCU traveling nurse from Fresno, California. He has been a traveling nurse for 7 years and has been to Guam, Maui, Austin, Denver, Seattle, and San Luis Obispo. He is currently working in Honolulu, HI and is going to California for a crisis assignment next month. Ryan has a passion for the travel community, co-founding and creating the platform, MedVenture, an app designed to inform, unite and create community for all traveling healthcare professionals. On his days off you can find him outdoors camping, hiking or biking.
Download the free MedVenture app for iOS and Android.