I know many a great nurse that has gotten burnt out. Nurses give and give and give and then they run out of all they have to give and then they keep giving what they don’t have.
How do I know?
Because I have been that nurse. I have been the nurse that wants to threaten the sweet little old lady in room 2 that keeps pushing her call light every five minutes. Nurses, you know the one I’m talking about (sometimes a sweet man). The one that should test call light buttons for durability like crash dummies test car crashes. I have been the nurse that robotically reads MARS and dispenses medicine. I have been the nurse that cries because I have to clock in for a shift.
I have been the nurse that has nothing left to give.
I have been the burnt out nurse.
I know an exceptional nurse that was once struggling with burn out. I remember her telling me she found work monotonous. Sure she cared for her patients and did her job, but she was just empty. She had given till she had nothing left to give.
This same nurse also told me something ill never forget, she said,
I wish I could go slap labels on cans for a couple months and then come back. That’d fix me.”
I had to chuckle when she told me this because I remember a time when I myself was so burnt out and tired. I was working swing shift with a small child and a husband that worked an opposite shift. It was a scheduling nightmare. I never saw my husband or child in the same hours and I got little to no sleep. I reached a point that I turned in my notice as a nurse because I had gotten a job washing dogs. Yes, I was that burnt out. Then I realized at midnight that there was no way I could support my small family on the income of a dog washer. Then I called my boss sobbing because I wanted to revoke my notice. Yes, at midnight, yes, I was that burnt out.
My point in writing this? I guess if I had to pick a reason, I’d say its to make people aware that even
good great exceptional nurses sometimes get burnt out . We are hard wired to give until there is nothing left to give. Its a trait that makes us good great exceptional nurses, this inborn need to give our all.
But know at some point all your giving will leave you empty. The good news? You can be filled back up.
How do I know?
Because I was once that nurse.
To all my nurse friends, burn out only happens to the best of us. Because we give and give and give….until we have nothing left to give.