In a survey of thousands of nurses in June 2021, 95% reported feeling burnt out in the past three years. If you’ve ever done a shift in a hospital, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about! Nursing is one of the most demanding jobs, emotionally and physically, and when you’ve been helping the sick for weeks, months, or years, it takes its toll.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can prevent nurse burnout. Whether you’re a nurse yourself or a hospital manager, here are some top tips to ensure burnout stays at bay after a shift on the ward.
Encourage Open and Honest Communication
Being able to speak honestly about your work is vital for good mental health. Working in a hospital isn’t easy, and nurses will undoubtedly go through difficult experiences and witness traumatic sights. Ensuring they can talk about these things is a must.
If you’re a nurse, make an effort to encourage honest communication with your peers. Talk about your day and share your feelings with other nurses, and be there to listen when they need to vent. These are the people who will understand you the most, and you shouldn’t underestimate how much that can help.
If you’re managing a hospital, ensure your nurses know that they can seek help when they’re struggling. Have therapists on hand you can refer them to and encourage them to speak out without worrying. By removing the fear of sharing their struggles, you’re on your way to creating a happier, healthier team!
Train Leaders to Spot Burnout
Burnout can lead to serious mental health issues. Be sure that your staff are trained to spot the signs of burnout, including:
- Withdrawal socially
- Sadness and/or anger
Staff should also be trained on what to do if they’re worried about a colleague. This could include how to talk about burnout, who to refer the problem to, and how they can support struggling staff. Your hospital’s team should be a support system within itself, and proper training is the best way to achieve this.
Implement Support Programs
Support programs are a must in every hospital. If yours doesn’t have them in place, speak to management about creating them for burnt-out nurses or implement them yourself. Support programs can include group sessions for struggling staff, individual therapy, and meetings with management to discuss issues and work out how to resolve them.
Create Mental Health Days Out
Nurses need to let off steam, and team days out are a great way to do that! Not only does this foster better relationships between staff, but it also gives them a chance to leave their work behind and have some fun. Focus the days out on activities that are known to be good for mental health. Adventure therapy, for example, is known to improve coping skills, encourage open communication, and generate more self-belief. These days out are usually outdoors, too, where the healing power of nature can work its magic.
Encourage Involvement in Scheduling
Nurses work long hours and can have day shifts, night shifts, and everything in between. If nurses struggle to live around their schedule, they’re far likelier to experience burnout and leave the profession. To prevent this, encourage collaborative shift scheduling, where everyone works together to plan out the week ahead. Nurses can have more input on when they want to work and swap shifts with one another to accommodate last-minute plans. Simply having more control over when you work can drastically improve mental health.
Maintain Self-Care and Health
It can be tricky to find the time to carry out self-care when you’re a nurse, but it’s super important to prevent burnout. Make sure you set aside the time to look after yourself. Some popular self-care activities include:
- Gentle exercise (jogging, yoga, swimming etc.)
- Preparing home-cooked meals
- Reading and journaling
- Taking a relaxing bath
You also need to ensure you get enough sleep every night, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. You spend all day looking after others, so be sure you take the time to look after yourself when you’re home!
Find Purpose in Your Work
Purpose in your work can make all the difference to your frame of mind. If you’re a manager, be sure you give staff plenty of variety in their day, so they’re not stuck on non-clinical tasks for an entire shift. Your team didn’t become nurses so they could fill out paperwork, after all! Everyone should get the chance to do hands-on, fulfilling work wherever possible.
If you’re a nurse and you’re finding your work isn’t fulfilling, ask management to switch up your tasks. Perhaps you need to reduce your non-clinical work, or you would like to upgrade your skills to carry out new procedures. Consider what you could be doing that would fill your desire for purpose, and go after it!
Working with sick and injured patients isn’t an easy job, but it can be one of the most incredible and fulfilling careers you can choose. With these tips to address and avoid burnout, you should see burnout drop in your hospital! Remember, prioritising you and your team’s mental health is the best way to create an efficient hospital that’s ready to treat patients.