There are numerous articles on the signs and symptoms of the burned out nurse. They all recommend the same thingÖquit. Take a break or move on, they advise. This is an overwhelming idea to most nurses. They have been giving 110% to a lifelong career. They have poured their sweat and backs into doing their best for their patients and their facility. Expecting them to suddenly walk off the map is a bit much when taken on the surface level.
One of the best things about having your nursing license is that is covers such a broad range of topics. The maternal nurse is leading a very different professional life from the hospice nurse, right? Perhaps they arenít really that different. That is the magic of being a nurse. The skill set, communication, and clinical care translates across a spectrum of subheadings. That is why when nurses graduate, they are all given the same test, no matter what specialty they eventually choose.
As an example, we all assess the same way. The parameters for a normal infant assessment and a normal geriatric assessment will be different, but the skill set is there. Administration of medications is another example. There are clinical parameters and cautions that affect different patient populations, but they arenít so different that the experienced nurse canít find her way. There are non-traditional nurse roles that rely on the experience the nurse has had over her career. Utilization review, legal consulting, and parish nursing are all examples of how those long, hard hours can translate into a new career for the nurse who is ready and needs to move on. One way to explore these roles is to attend continuing education geared to those specialties. Another way to gain perspective is to attend that unitís skill validation day.
Having our colleagues recognize and embrace the nurse seeking new experiences and knowledge would further our collective goal of healing and helping our own. Examine your own nursing practice. Do you welcome new, experienced nurses when they float to help out? Do you snub them or attempt to exert power or control by pointing out their weaknesses? How are you, personally, shaping your profession? Each of us has a personal responsibility to give what we think is the proper care to each other, as well as to our patients. Let us be role models and hope that one day, someone may do the same for us.