Nurse burnout in the age of COVID-19
Even local heroes sometimes need a break. That's what many hospitals and clinics around the country are learning in the age of COVID-19. The added rules to follow from the CDC and respective hospital policies in addition to the anxiety as a frontline employee is taking its toll on the estimated 2.86 million nurses around the U.S.
According to a 2018 study published in the Psychology, Health, and Medicine Journal, nurses are the top profession for burnout due to feelings of a lack of control and unreachable goals. This was true before COVID-19. So what happens to nurses who have been working diligently to care for their patients during the age of COVID-19 for over a year? Feelings of burnout are intensified - dramatically.
Regulations and best practices for COVID-19 have changed a few times over the past year as data was made available. Nurses had to be ready to adapt to changes quickly, and educate patients on safety guidelines. Nurses must also wear appropriate PPE, sometimes making breathing demanding or communication difficult. There is also the constant fear of catching COVID-19 at the frontlines, potentially spreading it to loved ones, and being temporarily sent home for the quarantine period.
So what can be done to help nurses survive the stress and pressure of COVID-19? Thank them. Not just for helping, but for choosing to be there during uncertain times and continuing to provide care for their patients. Ask them how they're doing. Managers of nursing teams can offer additional rewards for outstanding work and acknowledge their team for getting through the last year. COVID-19 did not make 2020 easy for anyone, but nurses were the ones at the frontlines to make sure the rest of the people could stay healthy through it all.
Terrence Hunt, RN-BSN
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