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Nurses Week: Protecting Our Nurses From Burnout

Florence Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing. As an English social reformer and statistician, she came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War. It was during this battle that she organized care for wounded soldiers at Constantinople. 

Nightingale established the profession in 1854, and now there are about 28 million nurses worldwide. Almost five million of them serve patients in the United States. 

A Well-Deserved Observance

National Nurses Week was first observed in 1954, the year which marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. This year’s celebration is May 6-12, and the theme is “Year of the Nurse.”

Looking back on this past year and looking ahead to the rest of 2021, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention our gratitude for the extreme bravery and servitude of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The past year has been challenging for many of them.

Battling Burnout 

Unfortunately, many nursing professionals were experiencing burnout prior to the pandemic. Of those 28 million nurses worldwide, 15.6 percent have reported feelings of burnout, even higher levels of which are associated with increased rates of both patient mortality and dissemination of hospital-transmitted infections. Nurses with greater than a 1:4 nurse-to-patient ratio have an increased risk of burnout, with each additional patient raising the risk by 23 percent.

Defined as a chronic response to work-related stress composed of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and lack of personal accomplishment, nurse burnout often is due to understaffed hospitals, fatigue, a chronic lack of sleep and feelings of being constantly overworked but unappreciated. 

If you’re a nurse experiencing burnout, consider the following actions: 

  • Attempt to practice self-care 
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine 
  • Eat a well-balanced diet 
  • Use paid time-off and vacation 
  • Foster strong co-worker relationships 
  • Regulate your shift schedule as much as possible to include work days of no longer than nine hours 
  • Take advantage of any mental health services your employer offers, and don’t hesitate to seek outside professional help 

Additionally, if you’re a health leader, attempt to proactively look for symptoms of burnout, intervene and offer solutions. Burnout isn’t a problem that goes away on its own, and it affects much more than an individual clinician. 

We at Epion Health salute all you nurses out there and thank you for your dedication to the patients you serve.

Read more: Physician Burnout: The Complete Guide

Read more: Physician Burnout: FAQs