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Preventing First-Year Burnout for Critical Care Nurses

Statics show that 13 percent of all new critical care nurses leave their jobs or switch units during their first year because they cannot handle the pressures that come along with working in the critical care unit, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. While burnout is a legitimate reason for switching professions, it’s something that can be avoided. To learn how to can prevent nurse burnout your first year, continue reading below.

One of the first things new nursing graduates will learn is that the critical care unit is extremely overwhelming. You will be forced to juggle a magnitude of different tasks throughout the day and sometimes patients and staff will make you feel inadequate despite all your efforts and hard work. For days that you feel underappreciated, it’s best to remember all of your accomplishments and reflect on all of the compliments you have received in your career thus far. A good way to do this is to keep track of ego-boosting and self-assuring material in a journal. Every time you have a good experience with a patient for example, write it down and express how you were feeling at the time. Not only can this journal serve as a pick-me-up, but it can also be a tangible form of proof of growth. It can show you how far you’ve come along and what progress you have made. By keeping track of how much you’ve improved (and reminding yourself that you will continue to improve) this alone can be the reason why you decide to stay in the nursing profession.

Another way to avoid burnout is to try to stay positive at all times. Avoid contact with negative co-workers (i.e. other nurses who hate their jobs) because like the old expression goes "misery loves company." Meaning, don’t let someone else’s negativity about their unhappiness rub off on you. Rather, surround yourself with positive people who will inspire you to work harder and continue to do great things because you should always remember just that—your profession allows you to do great things, like saving lives. Always remember that when things get rough or too frustrating.

One of the main reasons new nurses get burned out is because they are so overwhelmed with all their new duties that they feel as if they have no time to take breaks. Everyone needs to de-stress every now and then. So make sure that you take your breaks (take a breather and actually sit down and enjoy your lunch) and do your very best to get the proper amount of sleep. Sleep-deprivation is a quick trip to burn out lane. Also, try to save all your Paid Time Off days (PTOs) for days that you can take an actual vacation. Just going on a weeklong trip with some friends or family is enough for you to recuperate and be more motivated to continue with your job.

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