5 ways to tell if you’re experiencing burnout

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Bitter, battered, negative and unhappy. These qualities do not a nurse make.

Ever worked with anyone whose candle seems to dimming each day you see them?

Here are five ways to tell if you are approaching that limit.

  • You have nothing nice to say about your job (current position)

Nobody’s job is perfect. We all have certain things that annoy us, or drive us batty at work. Everything from a colleague to the red-tape politics can push your buttons from time to time. But, when the common theme is all about what you don’t like, won’t do, or can’t stand it’s time to rethink your situation. The good should always out weigh the bad, otherwise find a new job.

  • New nurses aggravate you

You know the old rumor of ‘Nurses eating their young’. Well if you are living proof of this urban legend you need to stop thinking about what a new nurse doesn’t know, and start remembering what it was like to be one! You didn’t walk into this profession knowing everything, someone had to teach you. It’s time to pass on the knowledge, and lessen the fear. These new breed of nurses are willing, able, sharp and smart. Who doesn’t want that type of person as a colleague?

  • Change (Technology) is your enemy

It’s the only constant thing in our profession. Everything about our profession continues to change and evolve. Our patients and their presentation has changed, and so should our care. Gone are the days of counting drops in glass bottles (although, yes we still do this), taking temperatures with mercury-filled thermometers and having post-operative patients lying in bed for days. Change is a good thing – for you and our patients.

  • You don’t get along with any of your co-workers

Yes, personalities will collide. We all have coworkers that just ‘click’ with us, and others that never meet on the same page. Que sera sera. That challenge exists in every work environment. The difference is, as a rule, you should be getting along with more than you don’t. If you have more enemies than allies, you may want to look in the mirror. It’s not everyone against you, really.

  • You have nothing nice to say about your profession

This is by far the worst offense of them all. We work in the greatest profession out there. Sure there are things I don’t like and would rather not have to deal with, but when someone asks me about my chosen profession I light up like a flood light. My mouth starts running a mile a minute about all the great things I have seen, done and experienced. I am wanting to contribute to the ‘whole’ not just be a working part of this awesome machine. You will never catch me say anything negative without a handful of positives to finish my sentence. If you don’t like your choice of profession, please do us all a favor and don’t just talk about leaving.

So, do you know anyone who fits any of the above?

Burnout isn’t the end my fellow fighters! Maybe you just need a much deserved vacation to re-energize? Maybe a stay-cation? Maybe the recharge involves a change of scenery? That is the great thing about our profession, the unlimited opportunities and options out there!

Take advantage of them and fire up that spark!

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3 Responses to 5 ways to tell if you’re experiencing burnout

  1. dave

    i was a burned out nurse and for years didn’t realize it. i was a combat medic in spec ops units for 6 years and went to 12 countries including Vietnam. Then i was an EMT and then a nurse and immediately migrated to the ER and then a trauma center. After 5 years in the Trauma Center one night we had a gsw to the abdomen and also the assailent came in shot in the leg with a .38 cal. i remember after all those years and all the stuff i had seen. i was putting an IV in and the guy said he shot him over a game of dice. I remember telling the guy, “You shot someone over a game of dice?” i didnt snap and no one knew it but that was a turning point for me. i went home that night and told my wife i wasnt going back. 6 years of combat came back to me. being a ranger and delta force and i thought there was reasoning behind what i did and i am home and i am seeing people shot over a simple game. i told her i just cant take no more. i was worried now about PTSD but it wasnt. it was giving all my time to others and no one to give it back to me. I started a landscaping business for 2 years but finally migrated back to the emergency rooms. i have been nursing 33 years now with 25 in the ER and i still have those moments but just deal with them

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Dave Thanks for sharing your story, best of luck to you.

  3. penny wiltz

    much of what we do with our elders is inhumane,demeaning,demoralizing and question its purpose at end of life. What is wrong with comfort, wonderful food (forget low fat), compassionate and respectful care. with adequate pain and symptom management.

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