For a lifelong career in nursing that satisfies and enriches your life, you’ll need to keep from experiencing nurse burnout. Nurse burnout is a serious state of physical and mental exhaustion resulting from the constant stress of patient care. One survey by CareerBuilder found that 60 percent of healthcare workers, including nurses, experience burnout. That’s a harrowing statistic because burnout can negatively impact patient outcomes with medical errors. Being worn-out can also hinder nurses’ own health, marriage, family life, and mental well-being. It’s normal to feel tired after a 12-hour nursing shift, but ongoing exhaustion without relief is a major problem that shouldn’t be left unchecked. Whether you’re a nursing student, RN, or nurse practitioner, here’s everything you need to know about burnout.

Common Causes for Nurse Burnout

Healthcare organizations are facing a critical nursing shortage that doesn’t look to improve as the labor workforce demands over 526,000 more nurses. Employed nurses must pick up any slack by taking on heavier workloads. Hospitals, in particular, are placing pressure on RNs to minimize patient stays while achieving high care standards. Nurses must learn complicated technologies and stay abreast of new health policies. Most RNs work rotating shifts with irregular night and weekend hours that can wreck sleep schedules. Nurses are often exposed to traumatic events and violence. Losing patients and comforting grieving families is another occupational nursing hazard that takes its toll.

Signs You’re Experiencing Nurse Burnout

Knowing the red flags for nurse burnout is essential to avoid long-term health risks. Constant fatigue is the biggest warning sign. Burned out nurses can get eight hours of sleep and still not feel refreshed for another shift. Being too exhausted to enjoy family time and hobbies you once enjoyed is worrisome. Nurse burnout makes RNs feel frustration and anger towards their supervisors, colleagues, or even patients. Nurses experiencing burnout are usually cranky, detached, and unhappy. You could feel underappreciated and underpaid for the heavy workload you’re carrying. Another major warning of nurse burnout is dreading clocking into work and donning scrubs.

Remedies to Avoid Nurse Burnout

There are several ways to keep from experiencing nurse burnout. The most effective remedy is reducing the stressors in your life. Identify the areas spawning your exhaustion and eradicate them. This could involve requesting different hours or clearing extra events from your calendar. Don’t be afraid to tell your supervisor about any problems weighing heavily on your shoulders. Nurses must also take care of themselves by maintaining a nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Exercising regularly can naturally work off your stress. Consider practicing yoga, meditation, tai chi, and other healing arts. Taking vacation days to regroup your emotions and rest your mind could also help.

Serving others is the most rewarding part of being a nurse, but being responsible for life-and-death patient decisions can wear you down. That’s why the two-year turnover rate for RNs in America currently stands at 33 percent. If you’re unable to keep from experiencing nurse burnout, you may have to select a different healthcare specialization. Registered nurses can segue into other rewarding fields, such as health informatics (please see: How Do I Work in Nursing Informatics?), public health, clinical research, health education, medical sales, and pharmacy. Following some of the above remedies can alleviate your nurse burnout enough to set an exciting new career direction.