Burnout. We hear the term a lot, especially in nursing, but just how prevalent is nurse burnout?
The job of a nurse is hard work. It is physically exhausting, mentally taxing, and emotionally draining. With nurses being pushed to do more with less, it’s no wonder nurse burnout can be found almost anywhere. If we know that nurse burnout exists, the question then becomes how prevalent is it?
Well, from what we can find in the literature, nurse burnout is quite common. According to this classic study of over 43,000 nurses practicing in more than 700 hospitals in five countries conducted by Linda Aiken and colleagues more than 40% of hospital staff nurses score in the high range for job-related burnout (Health Affairs, 2001).
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Burnout doesn’t just affect the nurse. It spreads its infectious tentacles far and wide, causing havoc throughout healthcare. Higher workloads are often associated with nurse burnout and result in staff turnover and poor patient care (JAMA, 2002). Patient satisfaction has also been shown to be impacted negatively by higher levels of burnout (Med Care, 2004).
While these statistics are frightening, my inquisitive nature leads me to wonder- what about the nurses who are not answering the surveys or responding to the researchers’ questionnaires? Let’s take it a step further- as a nurse who has suffered from nurse burnout herself- I know from real life experience that when I was struggling… I felt as though I was all alone.
I did not want to reach out and ask anyone for help. I has no idea that resources were available to me. I felt downright terrible and as though there was nothing in the world that could make me feel better. It was my job as a nurse that was hard work- and since I had to go to work to make a living- I figured that there was nothing I could do about it. Right?
Even though nurse burnout is widespread and can feel isolating- there is hope. The first step to any change is awareness. Realizing that you are not alone… that there are nurses like you around the world, suffering from this nasty burnout syndrome too, can create feelings of relief.
Then, when the fog begins to lift and we are able to see more clearly, we can begin to take action. We can decide we no longer want to suffer from nurse burnout. With support and resources, we can do something about burnout in order to feel better.
In closing, it is very important to note that is not a problem. That’s right- you read it correctly. It is not a problem.
In fact, the authors of the Maslach Burnout Inventory themselves describe challenges in measuring, scoring, and therefore resolving the effects of burnout. There is no one-sized-fits all approach to handling nurse burnout. Burnout is a multifaceted dilemma that requires a personal strategy to maintain the balance you seek. Our new book, Stop Nurse Burnout shows you this critical distinction between a problem and a dilemma and over 117 ways to prevent burnout. Check it out.and get your copy today.