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How to Identify Nurse Burnout Symptoms and What They Tell You About Well-Being

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The demand for nurses continues to increase, with 1.2 million vacancies predicted between 2014 and 2022. Nurses are asked to do more and work longer hours due to this shortage and the growing demand for healthcare services. It's not surprising that many nurses end up getting burned out in this situation. Identifying the symptoms gives you insights into the core problems that are driving the burnout. 

Nurse Burnout Symptoms

While everyone is affected by burnout differently, you may see one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Poor judgment calls: Decision making does not adhere to the nurse's previous track record and could lead to malpractice situations. Patient outcomes may end up being far worse than they typically are, and this could impact the patients of other nurses as well.
  • High turnover rates: Nurse retention is poor, and the high turnover rates disrupt daily operations, as new people are always in the training process. Mistakes that novice nurses make occur on a continual basis and the additional oversight required by senior members of the team takes up their valuable time. 
  • Toxic work environment: Nurse burnout tends to sweep through the entire team and create a negative work environment. You may not see any overt signs with this symptom, but the overall atmosphere becomes stressful and full of tension.
  • Bad bedside manner: Patients often look to nurses for empathy, kindness and an exemplary bedside manner. A burned-out nurse may be cold, unfeeling or curt with people in need. The nurse's performance suffers because they don't have the right rapport with the patient, and the organization's reputation also takes a hit.

RELATED: Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Nurse Burnout

What Burnout Symptoms Tell You About Well-Being

You can learn many important things about nurse well-being when you look at their burnout symptoms. Whether you're trying to fix problems in your healthcare organization or you're a nurse suffering from suspected burnout, you can begin to make improvements in these key areas. 

Physical

Nurses experiencing burnout may not be sleeping or eating properly. They lack the time for an exercise routine, self-care, and other down time. Their reaction times may decrease and they act like they're walking in a fog. The stress associated with burnout can also lead to many health problems, such as heart attack or stroke.

Mental

The stress makes it difficult to think clearly. Nurses may find themselves developing depression, anxiety or worsening an existing mental illness. If they feel overwhelmed all the time, they may end up freezing in emergency situations or finding themselves unable to make the right decisions for the patient's health.

Emotional

Nurses may end up giving in to anger, impatience and other negative emotions. They could find themselves being too distant with patients, doctors, and other nurses. Their personal life may end up being affected, especially if they're going through this while juggling a relationship or family at the same time.

Fixing nurse burnout is an organization-wide endeavor that starts with gathering the right information. When you have the opportunity to identify burnout symptoms and understand how they relate to the nurses' well-being, you can take the right approach towards correcting the issue. It takes time to create a well-being plan for your nurses, but putting one in place now can help you avoid major staffing problems in the future.

If you're interested in learning how to evaluate nurse well-being, explore the free demo of the Well-Being Index. 

Access The Demo Account - Try It For Yourself!

You will get instant access to the Well-Being Index demo account to test the software as different types of users. We will also send you a confirmation email with the link to the demo account for future access.

Beat Burnout. Renew Purpose.

Transforming the Approach to Well-Being.

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Support to Make the Decision Easy

Shine a light on burnout and increase awareness at your institution. Use the Executive Leadership Summary to share with your colleagues or leadership teams.