The nurse burnout, which can be characterized as emotional exhaustion, comes from job-related stressors that can begin to affect one’s performance. Burnout can cause nurses to seek a career change, therefore negatively affecting hospital retention rates. You can avoid burnout by learning about its causes and symptoms.
The causes of nurse burnout all begin with stress. Since nurses work in fast-paced and demanding environments, it is no surprise that stress begins to build up. Throughout their shifts, nurses can take care of anywhere from five to ten patients, and keeping up with them and ensuring they are receiving the right care can be overwhelming. Adding to that, nurses face tremendous pressure knowing that patients are dealing with serious conditions, which allows little room for mistakes. This kind of responsibility is not so easy to leave at work at the end of the day. Nurses are also taught to be compassionate and empathetic, and many enter this profession because they want to help people. When nurses see their patients undergo successful treatments that result in healing, it can be very rewarding. But when things don’t work out for a patient like they wish it would, or they feel as if they could have done more to help, the blame game can really begin to take an emotional toll.
The symptoms of nurse burnout are the same as anyone else who is in a stressful environment. It can start with anxiety, as nurses start to feel the pressure of responsibility, or become overwhelmed with all that they have to do because there are not enough nurses on staff. Anxiety can start to influence nurses’ concentration levels, causing them to become forgetful and affecting their ability to make decisions. Nurses also tend to become exhausted quickly because they work rotating shifts that may not allow them to have a set schedule or routine. Being unable to incorporate the right amount of sleep, nutrition, and exercise into that schedule can significantly contribute to exhaustion. Another symptom of burnout is when nurses have negative feelings about their jobs. According to 2002 study by the American Nurses Association, when nurses left their job at the end of their shifts, 50 percent of them felt exhausted or discouraged and 44 percent felt sad about what they could not provide for their patients. When nurses leave their jobs feeling negative rather than positive emotions, they have little motivation to continue working.