Burnout Prevention Tips for Nurses During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Every profession comes with its own set of occupational stressors, including psychological requirements, seasonal influxes in business, and varying physical demands. A career in nursing is no exception and has been widely observed as a field at high risk of employee burnout as a result of these factors. The largest union of registered nurses in the country, National Nurses United, describes nurse burnout as “physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.” While burnout is not a diagnosable psychological disorder, it shares similar characteristics and treatment methods of other mental health illnesses like depression.
As caretakers, nurses have an intrinsic desire to put the wellbeing of their patients before all else. Despite this passion for providing quality patient care, healthcare professionals who don’t address burnout and take measures to manage their symptoms can end up negatively impacting their patients.
Burnout Rates During a Healthcare Crisis
The healthcare field has struggled with a national nursing shortage for the past two decades and is now simultaneously battling a global pandemic. During this unparalleled era, it’s important to create awareness surrounding the impact the added stress of the Coronavirus has brought to the healthcare system. Experts are hesitant to infer what the long-term effects of the pandemic will have on medical professionals. Still, many are unanimous in urging frontline workers to prioritize the assessment of their wellbeing as they navigate this healthcare crisis.
Methods for Managing Burnout
Nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic are particularly vulnerable to burnout, undergoing tremendous occupational pressure and anxiety surrounding the virus. This added pressure has resulted in an uptick of burnout cases amongst healthcare workers; however, it’s also contributed to an increased awareness of burnout. New conversations have emerged from this growing consciousness, as has the exploration of prevention and management techniques. Today many healthcare facilities are taking a proactive approach to address burnout by developing surveys, to monitor the wellbeing of their staff, and wellness programs for those exhibiting signs of chronic stress. The primary purpose of these programs is to offer both a support system and tools for nurses who are under surmounting pressure, resulting in excessive fatigue.
Be cognizant of tell-tale burnout signs
In addition to exploring available support options and connecting with colleagues, it’s also crucial for nurses to be cognizant of tell-tale burnout signs and to reach out for help before symptoms become unmanageable. Although frontline workers are required to quarantine themselves after returning from work, they don’t need to disengage from all forms of social interaction. Studies have proven Face-to-face interaction to be the most fulfilling form of communication. With this in mind, healthcare workers could greatly benefit from video calls with family or friends.
Another mood-boosting activity to help combat symptoms of burnout is spending time outdoors while making sure to abide by the CDC’s guideline of keeping a six-foot distance from others. During a pandemic, it’s also essential for healthcare workers to fuel their bodies with nutrition-dense foods that support their immune systems. Try incorporating great staples like citrus fruits and leafy greens, in addition to a serving of protein.
Burnout is a public health epidemic that not only severely impacts the health of nurses but also influences the quality of patient care. Nurses who experience burnout are at a much higher risk for error, which directly affects patients and can threaten a facility’s standard of care. This multi-faceted risk profile calls for all nurses to explore the tools available to them. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and the increasing demand of nurses, many companies are offering their services to healthcare professionals at no cost to help support them during this unprecedented time.
Talkspace, a telehealth virtual therapy company, is offering free online therapy to medical workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Talkspace CEO, Oren Frank, released a statement yesterday saying, “The mental health of our social workers, nurses, doctors, and other health personnel is now paramount. They are on the frontlines of a rapidly growing pandemic, putting their health and safety at risk to save others affected by the outbreak.” To take advantage of the 1,000 free months of therapy today, visit the Talkspace website to register by providing your NPI and state of residence.
Last week, IntelyCare, a workforce management software company for healthcare facilities, rolled out a free COVID-19 virtual training course for nursing professionals. Their website states, “Upon completion, each participant will receive one contact hour, along with a personalized certification on COVID-19 best practices and safety.” Additionally, nurses who complete the course will receive updates on the latest prevention and treatment options to best maintain their health and the health of their patients during the outbreak.
A global pandemic is uniquely stressful for nurses on the frontlines to battle illness. While the projected course of the COVID-19 virus is uncertain, is that we must protect healthcare workers and the general public. This safety is dependent on a joint effort of the public following prevention guidelines and medical workers practicing self-care.
We hope you found this article on tips for burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic helpful. Do you have any tips for fellow travel nurses to prevent burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic? Comment them below.