Nurse burnout is described as a condition of mental, physical, and emotional fatigue induced by long work hours, the pressure of making immediate decisions, and the burden of caring for patients who may have negative outcomes. You can begin to feel disengaged and disconnected as a result of these compounding causes, which are the first symptoms of burnout.
Factors that lead to burnout includes: job-related stress, heavy workload, interpersonal conflict in the work environment, and organizational barriers to autonomous decision making. Many of these conditions occurred in which nurses had to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses were burden with heavy assignments and at times not even manageable with patients that kept coming and not where to go. Organizational barriers and structures were often the biggest issues with getting adequate PPE and with this came many interpersonal conflicts in the work environment.
Negative effects of burnout can have a devastating impact directly on nurses, as well as patients, families, and the entire healthcare system. When those at the forefront are burnout there will be a rippling negative effect. Learning more about burnout in nurses is essential if we are to learn the magnitude as well as try to implement interventions and resources to help prevent and treat those that are experiencing burnout.
Burnout Warning Signs for Nurses
Difficulty concentrating or focusing
When taking a medical history, you find yourself not paying attention or having to ask the patient repeated is several times
Difficulty recalling specific facts or conversations
You're having trouble recalling the medical orders you just heard.
Irritability or frustration: you're not patient with others or with changes in your assignment. you easily become irritate your coworkers, patients, and loved ones.
Emotionally Exhausted: you are unaffected by those around you including patients
Detachment from patients: you dread having to talk or engage with patients
Lowered resilience: finding yourself cry more easily at something normally would not
Risk-taking: You stop using PPE, disregard of professional boundaries
No motivation to help others even your own colleagues: when someone on the team calls for assistance, you don't answer in the hopes that someone else will step up because you're too exhausted to take on anything else.
Engaging in unhealthy behaviors: you’re self-medicating to get through the day. Or, drinking more than normal.
Sleep difficulties: you are having difficulty falling asleep, racing thoughts, unable to remaining asleep, or waking up feeling tired. During the day your exhausted and fatigued.
Headaches: Developing new onset of headaches or typically headaches are now more extreme and more frequent.
Research in the making
Researcher Dr. Scannell is embarking on a study examining compassion fatigue among Emergency Department nurses who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research is a starting point to help understand what the scope of the problem may be. Ultimately this research is necessary as it can help to identify the problem and then start to build and integrate some resiliency measures to help prevent or combat compassion fatigue.
To learn more about the study visit Study site or www.BostonNursingInstitute.com