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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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Getting Back to Planning and Intentionality

So, a bit of a funny story (especially after my most recent blog post)....

I just bought a house this summer and it turns out there was a small wasp nest in the front light. I was able to remove that and bought a new fixture since the other one was broken. But I bought the wrong kind, so I returned it today and got another one that was the right kind - or so I thought.

If you've ever installed a ceiling light of any kind, you know it's a total pain in the behind. Seriously. At least it wasn't a ceiling fan though - those are a real bummer.

At any rate, as I was finishing up the installation (after it taking three times as long as I had expected ) I opened my front door and realized the light hangs down too far so I could only open the door enough to get in and out.   

So, I tried again. You'd think I would have measured it to make sure it fit, learning from my previous mistake. Nope. I just moved it up as high as it would go. I mean, it fits but the door grazes the bottom...

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The Problem with Helping Right Now

Let’s be honest, almost all of us helper types are struggling right now - especially if we are in a helping profession.  Between the horrors some of us are witnessing first hand and the needs presented to us that we don’t have solutions for, may of us are depressed, burned out, and maybe considering another career or at least questioning if this is really what we want to do anymore.

I’m in the same boat.  While I don’t have all of the answers right now, something shifted for me this week - something I have thought about but really hadn’t embraced on a deeper level yet.  I think this “something” may be an underlying piece of why we are all struggling so much.  This something is grief.  But it’s a special type of grief related to ambiguous loss, a term coined by Dr. Pauline Boss to describe loss without the promise of anything that looks like resolution, loss without certainty.  People are coming to us with...

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