People In This Profession Are Facing Extreme Burnout

Nurses are experiencing burnout due to the strain they endured during the pandemic and the nursing shortage that erupted in its wake.

By Wendy Hernandez | Published

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The COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected healthcare professionals globally, especially nurses, who faced unparalleled challenges while treating COVID-19 patients on the front lines. President Biden recently signed a congressional resolution to end the US national emergency response to the pandemic after three years. However, the pandemic’s aftermath has resulted in many nurses experiencing severe burnout, both physically and mentally, and calling for solutions.

About 100,000 registered nurses in the US left the workforce as a result of the pandemic, according to a survey by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and reported by CNN. This sobering statistic is a testament to the immense pressure and emotional toll that the pandemic has placed on nurses, who have been at the forefront of the fight against the virus. 

Indeed, as the healthcare industry continues to grapple with the pandemic’s aftermath, it’s critical to address the issue of nurse burnout and support these healthcare heroes in every way possible.

Overview of Nurse Burnout

Nurse burnout is not new, but it has become more prevalent post-pandemic. Burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment. Nurses are particularly vulnerable to burnout due to the long hours, high-stress environments, and limited resources they encounter.

According to recent data, burnout among nurses has significantly risen in the past year. A survey by the American Nurses Association found that 82 percent of nurses reported feeling more stressed than usual during the pandemic. Another study by the World Health Organization found that 40 percent of healthcare workers reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the pandemic.

Personal Stories

The stories of nurses who have experienced burnout firsthand are heartbreaking and an important reminder of the profound pressure and responsibility they carry while facing unsafe working conditions. Recently, during a strike in New York City this past January, nurses and their supporters gathered to demand better working conditions. Danny Fuentes, a union official, spoke about the nurses’ exhaustion, highlighting that they are humans who are burnt-out and tired, despite their dedication to their patients. Hospitals prioritize profits over their nurses’ wellbeing, leaving them no choice but to demand fair contracts that protect their patients.

Lorena Vivas, a nurse at Mount Sinai for 19 years and a member of the executive committee of the New York State Nurses Association, shared her experience at the rally. She spoke about how nurses are overworked, with a nurse meant to take care of two patients having to take care of three to four patients.

 “We’ve negotiated for over four months, and they’ve refused to listen to us,” she said. Lorena emphasized that nurses are not out here for wages but for their patients’ safety. The strike was a call to action to prioritize healthcare workers’ safety and well-being to prevent burnout and ensure quality patient care.

Solutions and Resources

There are some potential solutions to address nurse burnout. One is to implement more flexible scheduling so nurses can have a better work-life balance. Another is to increase staffing levels so nurses aren’t stretched too thin. Mental health resources, such as employee assistance programs and mental health support groups, can also help nurses cope with the stress and trauma of their work.

Nurse burnout is a serious issue that requires attention and action. The healthcare industry cannot afford to lose experienced nurses due to burnout. It’s essential that we take steps to support our healthcare professionals and provide them with the resources they need to take care of themselves and their patients. It’s time to recognize the significant sacrifices that nurses have made during the pandemic and work towards making their jobs more sustainable in the future.