Before the ongoing global health crisis hit, the US has already been enduring a silent yet incredibly incapacitating epidemic: widespread burnout. And while no profession is safe from this occupational phenomenon, studies have shown that it is much more pervasive in individuals who are working in especially demanding fields like healthcare. According to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), over 43% of the nurses in the US are suffering from burnout, with its symptoms 37% more prevalent among nurses providing direct patient care in nursing homes.
These staggering numbers show just how pressing an issue burnout really is among healthcare providers. Bearing that in mind, it only makes sense for important stakeholders such as healthcare employers to take action and take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of nurses developing burnout. Pain Free Working describes how companies should look beyond physical health when it comes to workplace wellness. This involves providing personalized solutions to meet their needs, especially for those who work remotely. For traveling nurses, such solutions could translate to companies setting up or financing ‘Travel Nurse Housing’. By providing Travel Nurse Housing, companies will be able to effectively reduce some of the stress the nurses have to deal with and help them save valuable time and energy.
Of course, aside from the companies, the nurses themselves also have to take certain measures to keep themselves safe from burning out. Here are some of them:
One of the best ways to cope with burnout is by having a group of people you know you can count on and reach out to when you are feeling exhausted (in every sense of the word) or experiencing anxiety or depression. Unfortunately, if you are a traveling nurse, miles away from your family, and alone in a big and unfamiliar city, having a support system to back you up can be a challenge. Sure, you can always call your family and friends back home, but having someone to kill some time with after a hard day’s work is entirely different. As a traveling nurse, one thing you can do to have a support system is to join a local group. Give in to your passions and seek groups who share the same. For instance, if you are into books, you can look for a local book club to join. You can also try joining fitness gyms — this way, you can exercise and meet new people as well. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone!
When your job is all about caring for another person, it becomes all too easy to forget to care for yourself too. Nonetheless, it is important for nurses to realize that self-care is just as necessary as patient care. Self-care differs greatly from person to person, which is why The New York Times emphasized that the best way to start taking care of yourself is knowing the activities that restore you. Whatever that activity may be, make sure that it helps you feel more like you are in your natural state and free of any pressure or judgment. Once you’ve determined what those activities are for you dedicate some time to invest in them.
One of the most common causes of burnout is not being able to separate your professional life from your home life. If you ever find yourself thinking about work even after your shift, then you need to stop yourself immediately and think of something else. An article by Nursing.org suggests adapting a behavior outside of work. Avoid dwelling on work issues at home and allow yourself to relax and think of other stuff when you are off the clock. It would also be a good idea to set boundaries with your patients and colleagues, and to turn off your notifications (provided that you’re not on call, of course). You can also create a routine that will signify that your workday is done, such as meditating or journaling — both of which can help you unplug and relieve stress.
This post was written and contributed by Anne Reed. Thanks so much, Anne for the great content!