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'Don’t burn out before you’ve reached your goal'

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Are you risking burning yourself out? Maybe it’s time to take a step back and stock of your situation

I’ve been in school for over ten years. I’ve come close to completing my goal of obtaining a Baccalaureate in Nursing and fell short by one class.

What did I do? I took another evaluation of my life goals and decided that pursing a BSN in nursing was worth enduring the whole process again (application, core content classes etc).

Any other person would have experienced burnout and quit, but not me. So, what is burnout? According to Wilcockson (2011), burnout is a state of exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.  A person is unable to meet constant demands, and loses interest in what she is doing.

What causes burnout?

  1. Lack of control – the inability to influence decisions that affect your job, lack of necessary resources to do your job.
  2. Unclear expectations.
  3. Dysfunctional dynamics- either in your personal or work life.
  4. Mismatch in values- your values mat differ from that of your instructor or institution of learning.
  5. An extreme in activity- perhaps your mentor or instructor doesn’t fully complete one task before beginning another (Mayo clinic, 2011).

Who is at risk for burnout?

  1. A person that takes in many roles at work or at home.
  2. A person working in the healthcare profession, or a profession that entails counseling or teaching.
  3. A person that feels he has little or no control over his life.

What are some consequences of burnout?

  1. Excessive stress.
  2. Fatigue.
  3. Insomnia.
  4. Financial losses through job loss and sick days.
  5. Anxiety and depression.
  6. In creased susceptibility to stress and illness ( Wilcockson, 2011).
  7. Alcohol or substance abuse (Mayo clinic, 2011).

What are some remedies for burnout?

  1. Early recognition.
  2. Re- evaluate goals.
  3. Make lifestyle adjustments.
  4. Utilize your support systems (family, friends, and peers).
  5. Adopt more healthful habits (exercise, eat healthful meals).
  6. Learn to say no- set boundaries (Wilcockson, 2011).

Use resources available to you. Allow your mentor to be a sounding board for concerns and frustrations. Often times, your mentor has experienced what you’ve experienced already and will be more than happy to share her coping mechanisms with you. Whether you’re a first time student or lifetime student; Employed in the healthcare field or other service industry; all can combat burnout with early recognition and a healthy dose of optimism.

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010, October). Job Burnout: Spotting it- and taking action. , 1-4,. Retrieved from
  • Wilcockson, M. (2011, August). The support workers’ guide to burnout in the workplace. British Journalof Healthcare Assistants, 5(8), 402-404.

Theresa Durham RN,ADON is Clinical Assistant Director of Nursing for Parkway Rehab and Nursing Center.

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