Friday, September 30, 2016

Nursing Burnout

Now that I work in a new place, I’ve been watching nurses. Mostly because there’s so many of them! In most SNFs (Skilled Nursing Facilities), I work with maybe 2 or three nurses at night, if that. In the hospital, things run a bit differently. But here’s something I’m starting to realize.

No matter where you work, burnout is a very real thing.

There are some nights when things just do not go right. (And days too, bad shifts do not discriminate). I think I’ve actually seen more nurses break down crying at this job than in other place. Crying because they’re overwhelmed, or they can’t catch up, or because there’s one specific patient who has tried their patience beyond anything. I’ve been there. Sometimes, I’m the one who breaks down crying.

Burnout is a huge problem in nursing. We deal with the day to day activities of the patients. We have to watch out for their care, keep an eye on their labs, and their orders, and we have to take most of the crap we’re dealt with a smile. It’s enough to make anyone feel frustrated.

Unfortunately, I haven’t learned the magic trick to dealing with burnout. Most of the time, once it gets to the point where every shift feels like I can’t get my work done, I tend to start looking for another job. In SNF, I’ve found that management likes to work with bare bones. Heck, I was management at one point. I understand the bottom line. But that doesn’t mean that the line we’re given is enough for the patients or the staff. Just because state tells us that we can function with that level of patients, it doesn’t mean that it’s true. So when you get a competent nurse (or CNA), it’s so easy to add extra work to their already heavy load, because there’s no other way for the facility to function. That’s when burnout tended to happen to me. When suddenly, they would cut nurses on the night that I worked because they knew I could pass the medications to all of the patients. Or the nights when I had a patient who was a 1:1, but they wouldn’t give me a sitter because they figured I could keep an eye on them.

I promise this isn’t a rant. It isn’t even complaining, really. It’s just a musing on the fact that nurses get burnt out. My solution has been switching jobs when I’m so overwhelmed that I can’t function. But I would love to know what the rest of you do to combat burnout. 

How do you reverse the process?