sad female healthcare provider with hand on head
Profiles and Features October 10, 2019

By Jane Anderson

5 Signs You’re on the Brink of Nurse Burnout

It's probable that sometime in your career, you'll have to deal with the effects of nurse burnout, either personally or through a colleague. 

Research has shown that nurse burnout and patient satisfaction are interconnected, and hospitals are attempting to address work overload factors before symptoms arise.

Detect Nurse Burnout Symptoms Early

If you or someone you know is beginning to show signs of nurse burnout, now is the time to take action. Once a problem becomes glaringly obvious, it may be too late to fix, and you risk losing a good nurse. 

Dr. Gary Brown is a licensed psychotherapist in Los Angeles and is the Crisis Response Team leader for the medical staff at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He provides insight on the following nurse burnout indicators.

5 Signs You’re On The Brink Of Nurse Burnout

1. Apathy

As defined by Merriam-Webster, apathy is a "lack of feeling or emotion." 

Dr. Brown explains it from a nurse's perspective: "You now find yourself not caring about what used to be a calling but is now just a job."

2. Depersonalization

Do you feel that your patients are just a collection of body parts you have to clean, treat and observe? 

If you no longer see each patient as an individual, you may have lost your compassionate care skills due to nurse burnout.

3. Sleep Disturbances

Work thoughts constantly interrupt your sleep or keep you from falling asleep. 

Dr. Brown states that some nurses have nightmares about work and live in constant fear that they missed disclosing something at the end of their shift.

4. Short-tempered

You become impatient with fellow workers, patients, and even your family, and small irritations annoy you excessively. 

You hear loved ones complain that you're never happy, and you start to notice that friends are avoiding you. 

Nurse burnout affects your ability to work and live in a lighthearted manner.

5. Physical Disorders

Eventually, emotional turmoil will take a toll on your body. Dr. Brown warns that you'll become more susceptible to infections because the constant job stress has compromised your immune system. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, excess stress may cause bodily symptoms such as headaches, stomach upsets, and muscle tension or pain.

Act Now To Stop Nurse Burnout

If you or a friend appears to be suffering from any of the warning signs above, speak up. Nurse burnout is a serious issue that can ruin your chosen career path. 

Research nurse burnout prevention tips and talk things over with a good friend or counselor. 

Thankfully, if caught early, nurse burnout can be reversed, and you can once again enjoy the challenging and rewarding vocation of nursing.

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