As I sit here late Friday night, or early Saturday morning rather, I ponder the question that has been quietly lurking in the back of my mind for a few weeks. "Am I burning out?" I just finished up my last shift for this week. So relieved to have the weekend off. I need a couple of days off to try to recover from this week. But this question is growing louder and louder and I have to finally confront it, however scary it may be.
What if I am burning out? And if I am burning out, what do I do to stop it? Can I stop it? Or are we nurses working at an unsustainable pace? I have seen my own feelings of frustration, fatigue and being overwhelmed in the faces of my coworkers.
I used to wonder what exactly 'nurse burnout' was. Now I know because I have felt it. But I naively thought that burnout only happened to seasoned nurses who have worked for many years. But here I am only 6 months into my nursing career and feeling burned out.
It is a hard winter this year with so many people sick, even management has said that it is busier than it has been in the recent winter months. So maybe it is just fatigue we are all feeling or maybe it's not. Perhaps it has taken the complete immersion into caring for so many sick people for me to be reminded of the kind of nurse I want to be.
Sometimes all it takes to make things become clearer is to go full force into one direction. Then once the action is taken to chose a path and pour one's self into it, it often becomes clear that is the direction you should go in or that is not the direction you should go in. A lot of the decisions that we get so stuck on making are difficult to make because actually both choices are good choices.
We can get eternally stuck on trying to make the "right decision" and never make any decision. Or we can chose one of the good choices and make that the right decision. Worst case scenario? You make a choice and realize that it actually wasn't a good choice for you after all and that the other choice was the way to go. Either way you end up taking action, learning something and moving forward toward your dreams. It is the agnozing over decision-making that is the biggest hurdle to our dreams, not making an incorrect choice that keeps us from our dreams.
This is what feeling burned out has reminded me of. Nursing is a good choice. Starting off and gaining experience as a new nurse on a medical-surgical floor is a good choice. But it is not the best choice for me. While I do enjoy interacting and caring for my patients, I did not get into nursing primarily to care for sick people. I actually got into nursing because I wanted to help people not get sick. I want to help people be their best healthy selves. That is why I got into nursing. And that is why after 6 months on a med-surg floor I am burning out.
(Note: I sat on this post a couple of weeks before publishing it. It is a high personal, honest and raw post. But ultimately I decided to publish it because I think that there are other people out there who may be able to relate to what I am saying and be encouraged that they are not alone.)