Nurses who care the most about their patients are at a higher risk of emotional stress and exhaustion, and ultimately burning out. Those surprising results of a new study find that nurses who are more dedicated to caring for patients and enter the health care profession because of a passion for caring for others seem to be too invested in their patients, and therefore are at a higher risk of exhaustion. These nurses are actually much more likely to leave the profession early.
Nursing is a demanding job. Nurses are a critical part of the health care system and keeping nurses motivated, healthy, and satisfied with their jobs can do a lot to help reduce the risk of medical errors involving nurses. Unfortunately, a number of distressing studies released over the past few years have pointed to flagging nursing motivation levels, poor health among nurses, and higher rates of burnout. Earlier this year research found that nurses often report low levels of motivation, because of lack of support in their job. In other cases, nurses reported being unappreciated, and suffer from too little sleep and irregular eating habits. As a result, their health suffered.
Now, a study that was published recently found that nurses, who entered the profession because of a passion for care giving were actually likely to have that passion backfire on them: These nurses were more likely to burn out. In contrast, nurses who entered the profession for other factors were more satisfied with their jobs and had a lower risk of leaving the profession.
It appears that these nurses are so committed to their patients that they do not know where their professional life ends and their personal life begins. These nurses cannot stop caring for patients when their shift ends and are at a high risk of suffering from emotional stress and exhaustion.
In order to avoid symptoms of burnout, nurses must remain physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. That means having a life beyond nursing. It also means the ability to perform caregiver duties to the highest of your abilities, without trying to be superhuman.
Unfortunately, much of the focus on preventing medical errors has failed to address the important role played by nurses. Hospitals need to invest more in making nurses feel appreciated, and encouraging nurses to pursue their own mental and physical health.