Nurse Burnout: Why We Need Change and How To Manage It

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn

  • What Nurse burnout is.
  • Why burnout is occurring in the healthcare system and NHS.
  • How employers could help avoid burnout.
  • What challenges Nurses face in their day to day role.
  • Where the latest Nurse jobs are and how to apply for them.

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare sector, providing compassionate and essential care to patients right across the world. Their dedication, resilience, and expertise are instrumental in ensuring the delivery of high-quality healthcare, and they play a pivotal role in improving the overall health of communities they serve.

As a Nurse, you have a duty to help take care of people, however you also have a duty to take care of yourself!

Working in such a fast paced environment such as the NHS, you’re likely to experience work-related stress caused by a variety of factors. However, if this stress isn’t dealt with properly it can lead to Nurse burnout.

Burnout not only affects the well-being of healthcare professionals but also has a detrimental impact on patient care and safety. Nurses experiencing burnout may struggle to provide the quality of care their patients expect or deserve.

However, burnout isn’t inevitable. Many Nurses enjoy long careers in the profession when they take time for themselves and manage their personal and professional lives. 

In our latest blog, we delve into what Nurse burnout is, why we need to change it and how to manage it.

What is Nurse burnout?

Nurse burnout is mental, physical and emotional exhaustion caused by work-related stress such as long hours, the pressure of quick decision-making, and the strain of caring for patients who may have poor outcomes.

Stress doesn’t solely come from working long shifts - it can come from working overtime, nights, and weekends, as well as the tiredness that comes with switching between shift schedules. These can all be major contributors to stress levels. 

Some of the most common symptoms and signs of Nurse burnout are:

  • Having a negative attitude.
  • Withdrawing from social circles.
  • Opposing workplace changes.
  • Calling in sick excessively.

What is the impact of Nurse burnout?

Nurse burnout is a serious issue that can have a significant impact on the individual Nurses, the healthcare system itself and the patients. Burnout can come from disrupted sleep patterns which can lead to Nurses being tired, unmotivated and unfocused. 

Some of the key impacts of Nurse burnout include:

  • Reduced job satisfaction - Nurse burnout can destroy job satisfaction and engagement, potentially leading to decreased productivity, lower morale, and a negative workplace culture.
  • Mental and physical health issues - Nurses experiencing burnout are at more risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, as well as physical health issues like chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, and increased susceptibility to illness. This creates a negative impact on the organisation as they are more likely to take time off sick.
  • Career progression - Nurses affected by burnout may have difficulty advancing in their careers or pursuing further education due to reduced motivation and energy. Burnout can also contribute to higher turnover rates, which can disrupt career continuity.

Why is burnout occurring in the healthcare system and NHS?

Nurse burnout is a complex issue that has been increasingly prevalent in the healthcare system and the NHS. The Covid-19 pandemic has increased stress on Nurses in other ways, too as they had to witness patient deaths on a much bigger scale than they were probably used to. This was also in tandem with supporting the grieving families of those who had passed, and protecting their own health during a global health emergency.

Here are several factors that are contributing to the occurrence of Nurse burnout:

  • Heavy workloads - Nurses often face heavy workloads with long hours, a high volume of patients, and a demanding pace. The pressure to meet patient needs can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion.
  • Staff shortages - Many healthcare systems, including the NHS, suffer from staffing shortages. This results in Nurse’s being asked to do more with fewer resources, work longer hours and work on their days off leading to increased stress and burnout.
  • Emotional demands - Nurse’s frequently deal with patients who are suffering, in pain, or facing life-threatening conditions. This emotional burden can take a toll on their mental health and contribute to burnout.
  • Shift work and irregular hours - Nurses often work irregular hours, night shifts, and weekends, which can disrupt their sleep patterns causing them to be tired, unmotivated and unfocused. Feeling like this 24/7 whilst working in a highly demanding role, can negatively impact their overall wellbeing.
  • High expectations and accountability - There are high expectations for Nurses to provide perfect care and outcomes, and they are held accountable for any adverse events. This constant pressure can be overwhelming and sometimes become too much.

How can employers help avoid Nurse burnout?

Employers play a pivotal role in mitigating Nurse burnout, a critical issue that not only affects healthcare professionals' wellbeing but also impacts patient care quality. Employers can help prevent Nurse burnout by prioritising their staff's wellbeing, ensuring adequate staffing levels to reduce overwhelming workloads, offering flexible scheduling to promote work-life balance and providing access to mental health support and resources. 

Some other ways which employers could help avoid Nurse burnout are:

  • Creating a supportive work environment - Employers should create a culture of open communication, where Nurses feel comfortable sharing their concerns and ideas. Addressing workplace bullying and harassment promptly is vital to maintain a healthy workplace culture.
  • Continuous education and training programs - These can empower Nurses and enhance their skills and confidence. By investing in their professional growth, employers not only promote better patient care but also demonstrate their commitment to the wellbeing of their nursing staff.
  • Mental health support - Employers should provide access to counselling services, stress management programs, and resources. Encouraging peer support networks can also be beneficial.
  • Recognition and rewards - Rewarding and recognising exceptional performances can boost Nurse morales. A well-implemented system of appreciation can make Nurses feel more valued and motivated.

Overall, preventing Nurse burnout requires a comprehensive approach including staffing, workplace culture, education, mental health support and recognition. Employers who prioritise these strategies not only support their nursing staff but also promote better patient outcomes and a healthier healthcare system.

How Nurses can beat burnout?

When working in a healthcare setting, it is important to avoid Nurse burnout. Some ways to avoid Nurse burnout include:

  • Set boundaries - Nurses should learn to say “no” sometimes. Working excessive shift, longer hours causes burnout so learning to say no when it all becomes too much is essential.
  • Seek support - Nurses should seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. Talking about your experiences and feelings can be therapeutic. Also, connect with colleagues who understand the challenges of nursing. Sometimes all you need is to get it off your chest and you will feel much better.
  • Self-care - Nurses should prioritise self care by getting enough sleep, eating well, doing things you enjoy and engaging in regular exercise. They should also practise relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation. Making time for hobbies and activities that bring joy and relaxation are essential too.
  • Take time off - It is a must that Nurses take time off to avoid burnout. They should take their allocated holiday time and sick days when needed.

Nursing jobs

Searching for your next nursing job? Discover and apply for your next Nurse job by uploading your CV or contacting our specialist Recruitment Consultant, Kaylah Henderson, who will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have. 

Already got your next nursing interview lined up? Check out 7 important questions to ask in your nursing job interview

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Located in the vibrant heart of the North West, we are a dynamic and ambitious healthcare and nursing recruitment agency with a forward-thinking approach. 

Searching for nurse recruitment solutions? Check out everything we have to offer now or call us on 01772 954200 to discover more.

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