Nurse Burnout- How to Spot the Signs

This is a Guest Blog Authored by Nurse Grid's  TESSA CURRY

As a nurse manager, you want your nurses to provide the best possible experience for their patients. But providing great healthcare and being sensitive to a patient’s needs takes a lot of energy. Forcing your staff to stay late and put in a lot of extra hours can lead to fatigue and nurse burnout. When a nurse gets burnt out, they will have a hard time staying focused on the job. They are more likely to mess up a patient’s chart, give them the wrong medicine, or make a patient feel uncomfortable. On top of that, your nurses might be doing lasting damage to their bodies and their minds, depriving them of sleep and a happy, healthy lifestyle. If you’re worried about some of your nurses, learn how to spot nurse burnout before it’s too late.

Regular Fatigue

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Nurse burnout usually takes the form of constant fatigue. It can be normal for some nurses to get tired towards the end of a 10 or 12 hour shift. That’s a long day and maybe they’re ready to go home. But if one of your nurses starts their shift feeling overly tired, that’s a major sign that they’re not getting enough sleep or they’re taking on too many shifts. Your nurses should wake up feeling well rested and energized. If not, maybe their shifts are too close together or they’re dealing with a crisis in their personal life. Reach out and find out if you can help.

Feeling Resentful or Acting Out

Nurses experiencing burnout will also start to feel resentful towards you, their supervisor, the nursing profession, or the hospital in general. They might have a bad attitude throughout the day or feel like they’re under appreciated for all their hard work. They might complain when you ask them to complete a task or they’re just fed up with the job all together. If this is the case, their mood might be related to something that’s happening in their personal life or it might be nurse burnout.

Lack of Enthusiasm or Professionalism

A lack of enthusiasm or professionalism on the job can also be a sign of nurse burnout. Nurses typically play lots of different roles throughout the day. They need to be a caregiver to their patients, an employee when interacting with their supervisor, and a friend when they’re engaging with the other nurses. But a nurse experiencing burnout will just go through the motions throughout the day without bothering to put on a smile for their next patient. This might lead to what’s known as compassion fatigue, which means the nurse doesn’t have the energy to give the patient some emotional support.

Intolerance to Change

If something changes at the hospital like a schedule change, new policies for employees, or a change in management, some nurses might have trouble getting used to a new system. This can also be a sign of nurse fatigue. The slightest sign of change can be a major stressor for some people. These individuals are usually already stressed out and more change might be the last straw. If you have an announcement to make and one of your nurses is struggling to adapt, it’s likely a sign of nurse burnout.

Becoming More Introverted

Nurses tend to be outgoing as they talk to dozens of different people throughout the day. It’s a social job and many nurses love interacting with patients and other staff members alike. But if one of your nurses suddenly becomes introverted, barely raising their head to greet another employee, or brushing off a patient’s concerns, they might be going through nurse burnout. A sudden shift in personality can be a major warning sign that something is wrong.

Keep an eye on your nurses and make sure they’re getting the support they need. Talk to your staff members and see if there’s anything you can do to improve their experience on the job.

katie duke