Caregiver Burnout- Part 1

Recognizing the Signs

As a travel nurse you are crucial contributor to our healthcare system and one of the most high-profile examples of a caregiver. By definition, your profession requires that you help other people and usually those people are in pain or suffering. The demand on your time spans beyond your patients because you have to answer to supervisors and doctors as well as file paperwork and log every aspect of medical attention. Add to that the long hours and physical requirements and it’s not surprising that caregiver burnout can affect up to 70 percent of nurses across the globe.

Burnout syndrome is not an immediate response to your environment, it actually occurs after prolonged exposure to stress factors. The most common reasons for travel nurse burnout include long work hours, lack of sleep, a high-stress work environment, a weak support system, and the emotional pressure from patient care. As a travel nurse, there is added strain that results from the need to adapt to new surroundings, distance from friends and family, as well as ramping up quickly to new hospital procedures.    

The Cleveland Clinic describes caregiver burnout as “a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that can happen when you dedicate time and energy to manage the health and safety of someone else. Caregivers who experience burnout may feel tired, stressed, withdrawn, anxious and depressed.” As a result, nurses may suffer physically, psychologically, socially and even financially. Sadly, severe burnout can lead to feelings of helplessness, decreased motivation and negative attitudes towards work and patients.

Those who suffer from burnout can experience a range of feelings and emotions. Some of the more common ones include:

(Source: Cleveland Clinic)

  • Anxiety or fear – If you do something wrong, it will harm someone within your care.
  • Anger or frustration – The person within your care doesn’t accept, want or appreciate the care you’re providing.
  • Denial – The severity of the person’s condition you’re caring for “isn’t that bad.”
  • Guilt – Spending time taking care of yourself is less important than the person within your care. You might feel bad doing things to care for yourself because they benefit you and not others.
  • Negativity – Your caregiving journey started positively but now feels like a dark cloud is following you. Your feelings toward your responsibility are passive or you don’t have the desire to do your job well.
  • Secluded or alone – You feel like you don’t have support, no one wants to help or asking for help is a sign of weakness.

One of the dangerous consequences of caregiver burnout is when nurses begin to distance themselves mentally from their work and try to escape the very factors causing the stress. This behavior can lead to poor work performance and lack of proper attention to patient care. The reality is—when you are suffering—your patients suffer as well. Unintentional behavior such as short attention span, lack of compassion, appearing rushed, or tardiness are all very real consequences of caregiver burnout.  It’s critical to realize how important a nurse’s well-being is to the well-being of their patients. If you don’t take time to care for yourself, it will be extremely difficult to provide the care your patients deserve.

Burnout Signs and Symptoms at a Glance:

(Source: Cleveland Clinic)

  • Emotional and physical exhaustion.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and other loved ones.
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless.
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Unable to concentrate.
  • Getting sick more often.
  • Irritability, frustration or anger toward others.

Travel nurses are at increased risk for caregiver burnout syndrome because of the demands of their profession and lifestyle. If at any time you feel overwhelmed, you need someone to talk to or you’re thinking about hurting yourself or suicide, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (U.S.). Someone is available to help you 24/7/365. For more resources click here.

Remember, you’re not alone

At Go Healthcare, we understand the importance of self-care for healthcare professionals. Visit our website to explore more articles on well-being, mental health, and strategies to navigate the demands of caregiving. Additionally, don’t miss out on the opportunity to discover rewarding travel healthcare assignments on our jobs board. Your well-being matters to us, and we’re here to support you in finding balance and fulfillment in your healthcare journey.