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The Deeper Issue of Nursing Burnout: Why It's not just about changing jobs or changing the system

After two years of the pandemic exacerbating the previously existing nursing shortages, nurses are burned out and leaving not just their jobs but the profession.  There are many who have ideas on how to shift healthcare organizations to improve nurse retention and thus improve patient outcomes; I have some myself.  But one thing I see few talking about is how to help the nurses with their burnout.  Whether you are a healthcare leader hoping to help your nurses or a nurse yourself, I’m sharing this in hopes of helping nurses both feel good again and be able to offer the highest quality care (if they choose to stay in nursing).  Read on.

While changing jobs and careers or even the systems nurses work in may seem attractive, there is a bigger issue at hand here:  The levels of stress built up that create burnout get stuck in the body*.  They follow you wherever you go; so whether nurses stay in their current jobs, find a new one, or the systems...

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Believe it or Not, You DO Have Time - You Just Can't Do Everything

What does it really mean when you say "I don't have time"?

PAUSE, and really think about it.

As I have reflected on this, I realized that it means I am not prioritizing the thing I think I don't have time for. But the thing is, something is missing for me when I agree to a task or appointment. The thing missing is that I am not consistently asking myself, "Does this align with my priorities, my goals, and my values?". When I look at my calendar, and especially my "to do" list, there is way too much on there that are things that don't fit the bill, that don't align with my priorities, goals, and/or values, things that I have felt obligated to do or do out of habit.

So how do we change that?

The first step is getting super clear on what our goals, priorities, and values are. This takes time - we need to pause and reflect on it. Maybe make some time today to do this.

Then, every time we are adding a task or meeting we ask, "Does this align with my goals, priorities, and values?" This...

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