Feeling indifferent. No longer feeling fulfilled with the job is often the start of compassion fatigue, or no longer sensing a connection to patients according to the American Nursing Association's Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation initiative. Unchecked, that can lead to poor outcomes and medical errors, which in turn feed the cycle of dread.
Resistance to change. Nursing is a complicated profession, with the need to juggle medical knowledge, human interaction and time management with life-and-death consequences. For nurses already stressed out, the website Nursing.org warns that even small changes can be overwhelming and interfere with professional success.
Becoming sick. Nurses are human, too, and like everyone else, can become physically ill. But anxiety and depression, not to mention simple stress, can manifest into physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems, chronic pain and a low immune system, according to an interview with Sarah A. Delgado, a clinical practice specialist with the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
These symptoms may seem broad, and the list is hardly an exhaustive tally of the possible signs of burnout in such a complicated profession. And, as Delgado notes, some nurses are known to dismiss individual burnout signs over a desire to power through.
But recognizing the signs can be the first step toward addressing the stress that accompanies the job and becoming a better nurse. Many jobs offer employee assistance programs for help, and the National Academy of Medicine provides an online list of resources.
Even tending to the basics of better sleep, nutrition and exercise can have a positive impact on burnout. That, in turn, boosts job satisfaction and job performance – not to mention showcases the ethics and care that have made nursing the most honest and ethical profession among Americans for 20 years running.
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