Nurse burnout: “I am terribly exhausted”


A small almost inconspicuous note, next to the trash can in the patient restrooms hits the nail on the spot with its content: Nurse. Exhausted. Help me!

Surprisingly common, yet seriously underestimated. Topic of the week and a medical definition many are not necessarily familiar with: the nurse burnout.

What exactly is a nurse burnout?

First of all: burnout is not just being stressed. Far more it is whether or not your are able to cope with what is stressing you. Generally everyone is susceptible to burnout, independent of which daily work task you choose to follow. Our state of mind, psyche has immense impact on our lives, whether work or privately. Being chronically overworked, sleep deprived and lacking job fulfillment as well as support, boosts emotional crisis which can more or less lead to clinical depression as a follow up of an untreated burnout.

Which symptoms are typical?

Symptoms that arouse are often job-related cynicism, being exhausted (mentally and physical) for no obvious reason at first sight. People affected often talk of „ I don’t get it. I’ve been practicing my job for a while and never had any problems living up to the task coming along with it. But right now, I just feel overwhelmed, somehow even miserable about the slightest things“.

​Crisis related topcs have an impact on our state

Nurses are often confronted with death and death related topics – leaving most nurses behind with no one to talk or dwell about their fears, worries or needs. The emotional strain on dealing with grieving relatives, losing patients may become overwhelming and are underpinned by long, exhausting night shifts that do little to contribute to a healthy work-life balance.

Also not be underestimated are deployments on the intensive station. While for example nurses in nursing homes are estimated to care for around five to eight patients a day, intensive care is taken by up to 50 patients daily! Thus, the fact remains undisputed, that at such an exhausting mission, the human psyche can sometimes suffer.

Mission possible: Take care of yourself first, then help others

A 2014 study of the University of Akron has shown that nurses who go into their daily work routine with the idea of helping others maybe more likely to succumb to a burnout than colleges who face their job skills on a far less emotional level.