12.1 Burnout & Self-Care Introduction

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the impact of situational stressors within the nursing profession
  • Develop strategies to mitigate stress and burnout and maintain engagement in the profession

There is a continued demand for nurses due to complex health care issues facing our country and health care institutions across the world. Nursing is a challenging and demanding profession that requires rigorous educational preparation, clinical expertise, compassion, and the physical and mental capacity to meet a variety of health care needs. The complex demands of the profession can lead to professional burnout and workplace attrition as nurses struggle to balance the challenges of their daily work roles, manage personal and organizational stress, and maintain their health and well-being at home. Nurses are often accustomed to putting aside their own needs to provide care, yet a lack of attention to their personal needs can have significant negative professional consequences. In essence, care for others can easily become compromised when care for self is in jeopardy. Additionally, nurses who do not engage in self-care are more at risk for burnout and attrition from the profession, compounding issues associated with staffing shortages and personnel supply to meet health care demands.[1]

To fully consider the implications of stress management within the nursing profession, one must look no further than the challenges that have arisen as a result of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Each day, news reports highlight the exhaustion being experienced by nurses across the world resulting from health care demands in acute inpatient care, long-term care, school nursing, and public health.[2] With increased job stress, nurses may experience an increased desire to leave the profession and look for other career opportunities.[3] Personal ability to cope with stressors and workplace challenges have been further taxed by ongoing and ever-increasing health care demands. Busy health care systems have struggled to meet care demands as health care personnel have experienced waning professional engagement with decreased time for personal renewal and rejuvenation.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many stressors that previously existed within the nursing profession. This has challenged nurses to find creative methods aimed at increasing self-resilience as a means of meeting the burgeoning health care demands and challenges arising during these uncertain times. Novice nurses who are entering the profession may feel these stressors more acutely than experienced nurses who have already cultivated personal resilience skills. As a result, attention must be given to assisting novice nurses in developing skills to address occupational stress as they navigate their way into the profession. Many novice nurses are experiencing a new challenge of moral distress as they care for COVID patients in environments that are very different from the clinical experiences they had during their education.[4] The nursing profession must acknowledge this new challenge for novice nurses and foster strategies and resources to provide additional emotional support for the unique needs of this group. Professional mentorship and support are even more important in times when many nurses may question their career choice and personally experience waning engagement with the profession.

Finally, it is important for the nursing profession to acknowledge that even outside of the pandemic environment there are unique challenges for long-term engagement. Nurses entering the profession should acknowledge the inherent nature of the work of nursing that can create measurable highs and lows as individuals provide the care and support needed to facilitate the health and well-being of others. Hours are long and care demands are high. Client care needs revolve around a cycle of illness and do not coincide with holidays, summer vacations, and weekend sports. As a result, many new nurses  soon realize that job stress related to the schedule burden can become a challenge. It is one of the inherent job stressors that nurses must seek to resolve and manage. Additionally, nurses must recognize that stress management and personal wellness remain important aspects of professional growth throughout the various phases of their career.

  1. Waddill-Goad, S. (2016). Nurse burnout: Combating stress in nursing. Sigma Theta Tau International.
  2. Turale, S., & Nantsupawat, A. (2021). Clinician mental health, nursing shortages and the COVID‐19 pandemic: Crises within crises. International Nursing Review, 68(1), 12-14. https://doi.org/10.1111/inr.12674
  3. Maben, J., & Bridges, J. (2020). Covid-19: Supporting nurses' psychological and mental health. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 29(15-16), 2742-2750. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocn.15307
  4. Horan, K. M., & Dimino, K. (2020). Supporting novice nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. AJN: American Journal of Nursing, 120(12), 11. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.NAJ.0000724140.27953.d1


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Nursing Management and Professional Concepts Copyright © by Chippewa Valley Technical College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book