Nurse Burnout – Signs, Symptoms, And Prevention Tips
By Keren Avnery, RN
When asked, “Why did you become a nurse?”, the statement most nurses made as the reason for entering the nursing profession was that they wanted to care for people.¹ However, in our modern healthcare system, the term “care” has mushroomed into meaning much more than it once did.
Nurses today play a variety of roles at the bedside beyond caregiver, including educator, emotional support system, manager of medications and procedures, interpreter of medical terminology, referee for family and friends, liaison among different specialities, and so much more. In addition to these responsibilities surrounding patient care, nurses are additionally held accountable for a multitude of data metrics, including fall rates, catheter associated UTIs, and patient satisfaction scores. Nurses can start to feel overwhelmed as they juggle all of these competing demands, which can lead to exhaustion and ultimately nurse burnout.
What is Nurse Burnout?
Burnout is a term coined in the 1970s to describe the result of the severe stress and high ideals experienced in the helping professions.² There have been several studies recently examining the effects of burnout on the nursing population and its relationship to the quality of patient care.
One study surveyed over 95,000 nurses and found that nurses providing direct patient care and working in hospitals and nursing homes were the most likely of all nurses to express dissatisfaction with their jobs and to report feeling burned out.³
In a recent survey, RNnetwork questioned over 600 nurses about their workload, work/life balance, the national nursing shortage and how respected they feel at work. Half of the nurses surveyed have considered leaving the nursing profession. “The number one reason for wanting to leave is feeling overworked (27 percent), followed by not enjoying their job anymore (16 percent) and spending too much time on paperwork (15 percent).”4
Nurse Burnout Impacting Patient Care
Burnout is not only negatively affecting nurses, but also negatively affecting patient outcomes. One study found that nurse burnout and job satisfaction significantly affected patient satisfaction. “The percentage of patients who would definitely recommend the hospital to friends or family decreased by about 2 percent for every 10 percent of nurses at the hospital reporting dissatisfaction with their job.”³ Another study surveyed over 53,000 nurses in six different developed countries, and found that “across countries, higher levels of burnout were associated with lower ratings of the quality of care.”5
How to Avoid Nurse Burnout
The reality is, with the looming nurse shortage and severity of patient illnesses on the rise, nurse burnout is only going to escalate over the next few decades. Preventing or improving nurse burnout will be critical for maintaining the nurse workforce and improving the quality of patient care.
If nurses are burnt out because they are looking for variety, connectRN might be a good option; connectRN partners with different types of healthcare facilities so that nurses can work wherever they want. When forced overtime leads to burnout, connectRN can help because they have no scheduling requirements; rather, nurses pick up shifts whenever it is convenient to do so. connectRN is a great option for nurses looking to free their lifestyles, work as many or as few hours as they wish, and not feel tied down to a specific facility. It is a company dedicated to helping nurses gain a sense of independence and control again, and may help nurses bounce back from burnout they are experiencing elsewhere. Click here to learn more about how connectRN is helping nurses combat burnout.
Boughn, Susan. “Why Women And Men Choose Nursing.” Nursing and Health Care Perspectives, vol. 22, no. 1, 2001, pp. 14–19.
“Depression: What Is Burnout?” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Jan. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072470/.
Mchugh, Matthew D., et al. “Nurses’ Widespread Job Dissatisfaction, Burnout, And Frustration With Health Benefits Signal Problems For Patient Care.” Health Affairs, vol. 30, no. 2, 2011, pp. 202–210., doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0100.
“RNnetwork Nurse Survey Finds Half of Nurses Consider Quitting.” RNnetwork – Travel Nursing Blog, 1 Mar. 2017, rnnetwork.com/blog/rnnetwork-nurse-survey/.
Poghosyan, Lusine, et al. “Nurse Burnout and Quality of Care: Cross-National Investigation in Six Countries.” Research in Nursing & Health, vol. 33, no. 4, Jan. 2010, pp. 288–298., doi:10.1002/nur.20383.