Nurse fatigue, compassion fatigue, burnout and disengagement are words that describe the same thing – the feeling of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual depletion. Why is it that nurses in particular feel so depleted when we are so valued by our public?
I believe it’s because of repeated, consistent stress over time that wears us down like a woodcarver to a piece of wood.
I define “stress” in this way:
It’s when you don’t feel that you have the resources to meet the demands placed upon you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a clinical nurse at the bedside; a nurse educator; manager; homecare nurse; case manager, etc. We all have demands placed upon us that are not always reasonable.
You get report on the following patients: Two are in active alcohol withdrawal; two are new acute stroke patients; and one is in isolation with a trach, requiring frequent suctioning – q 1 hour morphine IV and q 2 hour IV Ativan. That was my assignment several weeks ago. Seriously. Was I stressed? You bet!
60% of all healthcare employees report feeling burned out. 1 in 10 people are on an anti-depressant (and I know a few more who should be).
What does this all mean?
It means that nurse fatigue is real; it’s far too common and it’s affecting our ability to feel good about the work we do.
So, what can we do?
Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some strategies to prevent and reverse nurse fatigue. This series is based on a presentation I did at the AMSN Annual Convention in September 2013 that received a lot of positive attention. Click here to watch the first Vlog (video).
My #1 strategy to prevent nurse fatigue: Commit to personal growth.
Commit to personal growth independent of what’s going on around you is the most important strategy to prevent burnout. When you commit to personal growth you become the director and producer of your life – not the victim of your environment and other people.
Top 2 tactics for personal growth
Advance your knowledge and skills
Some nurses will only get certified, advance their degrees, attend workshops or conferences IF their employer pays for it and get a raise because of it. However, that’s shortsighted thinking. You see, when you get certified, advance your degree or acquire a new skill from a seminar, etc. you take the knowledge with you no matter where you go.
Perhaps you need to improve your writing skills or speaking skills. Instead of saying, “yeah. I don’t have good writing/speaking skills,” go get them! There are a ton of programs either face-to-face or online on just about any skill you are trying to improve.
Nurses who fail to continue learning and growing beyond their immediate context, lose their experiential value and quickly fall behind.
Carve out at least 15 minutes (30 minutes is better – 1 hour is best!) every day to read something; read articles, blog posts (like mineJ), books, or newsletters – every day. And, make sure that you’re reading material beyond nursing. Some of the best content I’ve read that has truly transformed my nursing career came from other industries – experts in business, technology, leadership, etc.
The late Jim Rohn said this about personal growth: “A formal education will make you a living but self-education will make you a fortune!”
Commit to personal growth. Before you know it, you will feel replenished – not depleted. You will feel in control of your career – not a helpless victim. And ultimately, you will start to feel good about the work you do.
Stay tuned for my next strategy coming to you soon!
Take care and stay connected.
For more great tips, make sure you “like” me on Facebook,”follow” me on Twitter and YouTube and subscribe to my blog. Also, check out my new book on nurse-to-nurse bullying and my new eBook titled, Survive and Thrive: A guide helping new nurses succeed!
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