Signs & Symptoms of Nurse Burnout

graphic_nurses-medical-toolsNurse burnout is a serious issue in the medical profession. Research shows that the effects of nurse burnout can lead to hospital acquired infections in patients and decreased patient satisfaction. Burned out nurses are at higher risk for stress related diseases, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even alcohol and/or drug abuse. The causes of burnout can be attributed to anything from a lack of staffing to mandatory overtime, lateral violence and bullying, and increasing patient acuity. Many nurses leave an already struggling profession behind for a less stressful work environment as a result of burnout. Are you suddenly feeling indifferent at work or even dread it? You may be in danger of nurse burnout. You are not alone. The following are a few questions to ask yourself if you think you might be burning out.

Frequent Sick Days

Do you find yourself more susceptible to infections or are suffering from more frequent tension headaches or migraine headaches? Have you gone from having a perfect attendance record to an increased amount of sick days?

Lack of Enthusiasm 

Have you lost enthusiasm for a job you once loved? Do you dread driving to work? Does it take everything you have to get out of bed to make your shift on time?

Difficulty Focusing

Are you having a hard time focusing on tasks that normally would otherwise be second nature? Do you find yourself easily distracted?

Diminished Self Confidence

Have you lost your confidence at the bedside? Were you once a stellar nurse who has become increasingly self-critical? 

Poor Sleep 

Poor sleep, particularly on your days off, can be a sign that your job is getting to you. Do you suddenly toss and turn before finally falling to sleep?

Inability to Unwind

Does work related stress consume you even on your days off? Does it take your days off to recover from the days worked?

Negative Coping Mechanisms

Do you find yourself suddenly eating when you are not even hungry? Do you reward yourself at work with unhealthy food choices as a means to get through the shift? Reward yourself by excessive spending? With cigarettes or alcohol?

If you have noticed an increase in any of the above following, you could in fact be experiencing burn out. Luckily, there are many solutions. Recognition is the first step. Sometimes while all the symptoms are there, it is easy to deny and just try to push through and continue working until you hit a wall. You are not a weak person. Admitting that something is wrong and needs changing is sometimes the most challenging thing to admit, but is also the bravest. Burn out is not a reflection of you the individual. It is a reflection of an unfortunate set of circumstances encountered by many on a daily basis in the medical profession. Remember, you are not alone. Stay tuned for next week’s post on confronting burnout.


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