When the stress or strain of nursing becomes too much to bear

When the stress or strain of nursing becomes too much to bear, the nurse suffers. Nurses are seeking new career paths and nontraditional nursing jobs in droves because of nurse burnout. When nurses succumb to nurse burnout they are not the only ones that suffer, their patients, their families and often their marriages suffer as well. “Nursing has long been considered one of the most stressful professions. Stress in nursing is attributed largely to the physical labor, suffering and emotional demands of patients and families, work hours, shiftwork, interpersonal relationships (eg, inter- and intraprofessional conflict), and other pressures that are central to the work nurses do.” (Medscape Article). Patient care suffers when the nurse is not performing at her optimum, orders may get missed and medication errors are more likely to happen. Working long shifts, consecutively adds to nurse fatigue and an inability to sufficiently meet the patients’ needs. Nurses that work with a patient population with high acuity levels may also experience burnout at a higher rate. High acuity level patients have multiple comorbidities, that require the nurse to be high functioning and keenly alert. Nurse burnout directly effects patient care and safety. “The caregiver closest to the patient is deeply concerned about patient safety as well as their own practice,” said Susan Johnston Lynx in a press release. Johnston is MNA program director and project administrator for the study. “This front-line knowledge portends a critical situation in healthcare that could worsen if not attended to and treated aggressively,” she is quoted as saying. Burnout can leave nurses faced with the choice of self-care or patient care, when forced into this dilemma because of burnout, nurses may often choose their own self perseverance. Choosing to put one’s own personal needs above their patients in a nursing role may cause ethical and possibly legal dilemmas.