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HomeResources3 Causes of Nurse Burnout & How to Avoid Them


3 Causes of Nurse Burnout & How to Avoid Them

Darian Khalilpour
Author: Darian Khalilpour
Date: March 28, 2024
Tags: Healthcare Professionals, Healthcare Staffing, Nursing, Staffing, Travel Nursing

While every professional is likely to experience stress on the job, nurses are particularly subject to high levels of stress due to the inherently demanding nature of caring for patients. Nurses dedicate their professional lives to putting their patients first, leaving little to no time to meet their own needs while on the clock. This constant pressure can result in nurse burnout, a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress at work. Research has shown that burnout can lead to depression, impaired judgment, psychological distress, insomnia, heart disease, and other negative health outcomes. In 2020, 62% of nurses reported experiencing burnout, so what’s causing it? And how can nurses help guard themselves against burnout? Let’s dive in.

Cause: High-stress environments

Nurses regularly care for patients who are sick, in pain, and dealing with life-altering diagnoses. While helping patients through their conditions can be a rewarding aspect of a nurse’s job, it can also cause stress and secondary trauma that can lead to nurse burnout. This is why it’s so important that nurses are empowered to take care of themselves both inside and outside of the workplace.

Nurses Can: Incorporate moments of mindfulness both at work and at home. These can be quick and simple like taking 10 slow, deep breaths on the commute to and from work. Advocate for yourself and other nurses by suggesting that your workplace introduce mindfulness initiatives to encourage making mental health a priority. Talk to your leadership about ensuring that nurses get sufficient time between shifts to recharge and relax. 

Cause: Long, untraditional hours and staffing shortages 

Some nurses work untraditional shifts like a night shift, which can lead to increased levels of stress and disrupt natural circadian rhythms, and nurses who work in hospital settings often have 12-hour shifts. Regardless of shift times, many nurses spend most of their work hours on their feet, balancing a rigorous workload due to widespread staffing shortages. This can further exacerbate their exhaustion and potentially lead to nurse burnout.

Nurses Can: Work with a healthcare staffing agency to find jobs with a supportive work environment. Staffing agencies can help nurses find placements where they are comfortable with the job hours and nurse-patient ratios.

Cause: Lack of collaboration at work

Nurses who experience a lack of support or collaboration at work are more likely to experience burnout and more likely to leave the profession altogether. Without a strong sense of teamwork, nurses can feel overworked, exhausted, and burnt out. Collaboration is essential amongst coworkers and even between nurses and their managers or nursing leadership.

Nurses Can: Help advocate for healthcare facilities to create supportive work environments and even suggest specific ideas or strategies that could be implemented. Lead by example and encourage more collaboration and teamwork with your fellow nurses. See if you can get other nurses on board with helping to shift the culture at work on the ground level. If you face resistance and don’t have support from your leadership, know when it may be time to explore other positions. If you are working with a staffing agency, talk to your recruiter about your experience so they can be a resource and help advocate for you.

Burnout is common among nurses, but it is preventable. Finding a job with a supportive work environment is an important first step in beating burnout. Explore how Amergis Healthcare Staffing can help find the right position for you.

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