3 ways to spot an overworked nurse

story-medical-icons-9-2016-484x252-pngNurses are overworked all the time. Just the straight 36 to 40 hour work week is enough to make a nurse feel exhausted, but if you count overtime, then you are really overdoing it.

Unfortunately, many nurses don’t have a choice, and they are overworked despite their best intentions. Whether it is because their units are difficult places to work, they have mandatory overtime, or they need the money, overworked nurses are out there in droves.

They are easy to spot, too, like the moon on a clear night. If you are overworked, you may find yourself exhibiting some of these symptoms, as well.


You’re mad as hell, and you just can’t take it anymore. You want everyone to get away from you: your spouse, your children, your dog, you cat . . . even the scratch of your scrubs is enough to make you want to scream.

This is irritability, and it is a definite sign of feeling overworked. You just feel angry all of the time because you feel like you have no control over what is going on around you.

No one really understands, either. They see you making money, so what is there really to complain about?

What your family and friends may not understand is how stressful nursing truly can be and that stress can manifest in anger – especially when you need to be a professional on your unit. Irritability is sometimes hard to reign in when you are overworked.


Depression and nursing seem to go hand in hand, and it is a sad state of affairs for people who just wanted to care for others and make a difference. An overworked nurse may feel down because they can’t spend the time they wanted to with their family and friends.

You may also feel depressed because you may find out that nursing isn’t exactly the idealized profession that you thought it was in nursing school. It is damned hard work, and you are often overworked to the point of feeling rather hopeless.

An overworked nurse may feel a touch despondent, and sometimes they may feel dread at the prospect of going into work. If you are feeling this way for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor. You may need some help with medication or counselling.


Every nurse is tired, and maybe that means that every nurse is overworked. In some cases this may be true, but overworked nurses are particularly tired.

Overworked nurses tend to sleep all the time and don’t want to participate in activities that would bring them joy. In many cases, they can’t, because they are so tired.

Their body just needs the sleep in order to make it through their next scheduled shift. As you may imagine, lethargy and depression are closely related.

If you find you are sleeping too much, it may be a sign that you are depressed, too. You don’t want to spend the bulk of your precious days off just lying in bed.

However, if you are overworked, lethargy and tiredness are sure signs that something needs to change. Think of changing jobs, cutting back your hours, or talking to your manager. Something has to give, and it shouldn’t be your sanity.

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