Nursing Burnout – How Do I Avoid It?

I know by now if you have been anywhere around the nursing profession you have heard the term “nursing burnout”! Let’s first talk about  the denfinition of the phrase. Really? Do I really need to define it!?  I could get all scientific and explain how the psychiatric field defines burnout, but I won’t.  Anyone that has experience burnout knows exactly what it is and doesn’t need me or anyone else to define it!  

The most important thing you need to know is how do I avoid it!  You want to avoid it at all cost. If not, you will pay a big price. I have  had nurses tell me that they’re going to leave the profession because of burnout!  So the key is not to let it get to that point!  I know I’m using a lot of exclamation points in this blog but it’s that important!!

Here’s what you need to do:

1.  Acknowledge your feelings as they are happening. 

2.  Ask yourself some very important questions about your job. 

3.  If you answer yes to those questions run! Run as far away from burnout as you possibly can! 

Make sure you are not denying your feelings.   If you’re working too much – slow down, take some time off and make sure you’re playing just as hard as you’re working. When you’re playing hard leave work at work.  Don’t answer your phone, don’t pay attention to text messages, just have fun.  Detach from work, it will be all be there when you go back. 

If you are truly burnt out ask yourself the important questions that consist of asking yourself if you are truly happy where you’re working.  Also ask yourself if you are truly happy with the area of nursing that you’re in?  And finally, if you are truly passionate about what you are doing? 

 If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, and you’re not happy in the area of nursing that you’re working in – run! Don’t wait. If you are at this point, it will only get worse!!   I know it probably goes against everything you believe or have been taught……I am saying it IS okay to leave. I give everyone of you reading this blog permission to move on.  You will thank me later!

Here’s my story. As a new graduate nurse I really wanted to work in a particular area of nursing, however,  I was working on that unit as a tech. None of the nurses knew that I was in nursing school I kept that to myself. Once the manager told the nurses that I would be graduating soon and working on that unit as a new graduate nurse the nurses began to treat me very differently. They ignored me, they asked me to do more work then they previously were asking, and when they did speak to me they assured me I was making the wrong decision.  Needless to say,  I turned down the new graduate job on that particular unit! I let them bully me right out of my passion! I then took a job in an area of nursing that I was not interested in.  Needless to say,  I was absolutely miserable!  I was overworked, stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, underpaid, and absolutely miserable!  I left that job after six months and never looked back.  Without boring you with all the details of my story I have to say it was the best decision that I ever made because I didn’t stay victim to being miserable. Believe me, I was judged, ridiculed, and talked about. However, I found a job that I loved and that I was passionate about it even though it was not in the field that I originally thought I wanted to work in but it was definitely an area of nursing that I was passionate about. I realized at that point that I was actually passionate about more than one area of nursing! And later on I even realize that my real true passion is educating, in particular nurses. I absolutely love teaching nursing students, and absolutely love teaching period! So I quickly went back to school to obtain my masters degree so that I could start teaching. 

I absolutely LOVE what I am doing and where I am in my career!  I was able to get to this place because I refused to buy into others beliefs that you get one job and stay there forever! I refused to experience burnout.  For some, that may work, but I have meet many more like me who just needed to figure it out where they truly belonged in nursing.  I have meet many nurses who are burnt out, but the are doing the same job over and over and being miserable! I call that the definition for insanity!! 

To some this blog up, be wise and find your happy place as quickly as possible – you deserve it! You’ve work so hard to become a nurse – enjoy it, love it, be on fire about it!!  Don’t worry what others think or say, follow your heart.  You don’t ever have to experience burnout! 

Be Inspired!

Lisa Marie Walsh


Journal Your Journey

Every year at the end of the year I pull out my journal one last time for a ‘year end’ reflection. I can’t say enough about this habit!  It is so important to me. I read a few journal entries from the beginning, middle, and latter months. I reflect on what I was experiencing at those times and ask myself these important questions:

  1. What was I feeling?
  2. Did I work through this?
  3. How did I work through it?
  4. Is there anything I would change?
  5. What did I learn from this?

I set new goals every year based on this information. 

I review my previous year goals and reflect on the accomplishment of them. If I didn’t accomplish one of my goals I will use that goal again for the next year, if it still applies. For example, while doing my prerequisites for nursing school the goal was to finish! I used that goal again, and again until I finished school. I did the same thing with graduate school.  

It is such a great habit to journal. As a nurse, it is vitally important! Dealing with tough situations is not uncommon in this profession and we need an outlet! And it all starts with nursing school….journal your journey!  It not only is a great outlet, it is a true form of self-care. 

Start now! This is a great time of year to start journaling!  If you are on break from nursing school, start today! Reflect on this past year and what you have already accomplished!  You finished you first year, right?! Good for you! Go buy a fancy journal and get started. Set some goals! Make the first one journaling your journey. Remember the book we heard about in nursing school that Florence Nightingale wrote,  Notes on Nursing?  She was journaling!  Reflect on that my friends! It’s that important. 

~Be Inspired

Lisa Marie Walsh