How to Improve Nursing Morale and Avoid Burnout

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Nursing can be a monotonous and stressful profession. Your daily routine can become so persistent and the appreciation you feel for what you do often seems minimal. While there are some that feel the paycheck should be enough, there are others who picked nursing as their profession because they wanted more than just money in the bank.

Unfortunately, nurses often give of themselves to the point where they may begin to feel defeated. They may start asking themselves “Why did I start doing this?” “What made me want to be a nurse to begin with?” “Does what I do really matter?”

In order to prevent getting to this point as a nurse, it is important that you take steps to prevent burnout. In the process you will also help to improve nursing morale. It’s not hard. It’s just a matter of being proactive and positive.

The following tips will help you prevent burnout and improve nursing morale.

Have a Nursing Goalimage

If you just go into work and complete your 12 hour shifts without a goal in mind, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re going to be burnt out! There’s something nice about familiarity but it can also make you feel like you’ve stalled. Set goals for yourself in your nursing career. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. You don’t have decide you need your PhD or anything. It could be something as simple as improving your charting efficiency. If constantly work to improve yourself as a nurse you’re less likely to get bored. You’re often likely to inspire those around you to do the same, which will boost morale.

Celebrate and Motivate Yourself and Other Nurses Everyday

Everyday as a nurse you help patients accomplish incredible things. You improve lives and the world with your actions. But unfortunately most nurses don’t take the time to acknowledge that. It’s almost as if nurses are not supposed to be proud and excited about what we do. We’re seen as “Angels in comfortable shoes” and “selfless givers.” While those images are beautiful and inspiring, we, as human beings, need to be acknowledge for the good we do.Because we do a lot of good.

I’ve written before about how we need to give each other High Fives in Healthcare. We need to give each other pats on the back. We need to celebrate and motivate each other everyday. Getting an IV stick is definitely a high five worthy occasion. And that is just one of the many opportunities you have daily to celebrate. If you can get your coworkers involved you’ll notice an improvement in the moods and attitudes of those around you.

Avoid Gossip and Lateral Violence

image If there is one aspect of nursing that can kill moral it is the presence of gossip and lateral violence. Any profession that puts groups of women together can potentiate an environment of gossip and cattiness, if you allow it. One thing that you as an individual nurse can do is refuse to participate in gossip. If others are talking negatively about a coworker and ask you to chime in, you may feel tempted to be a part of the crowd and join in on the conversation. I urge you to refrain. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, it can only serve to harm you and the morale of your workplace.

Be the bigger person and say no to gossip. Politely state “I prefer not to get involved in workplace gossip.” While the initial reaction from your coworkers may be one of annoyance, in the long run they’ll likely have respect for you and you’ll have a greater respect for yourself.

 

Being Aware and Getting Others Involved

Being aware that the nursing profession has a huge potential for decreased morale and burnout is an excellent way to prevent it. You should also share with others this knowledge. Getting your coworkers involved in improving morale is the only way you can hold to make a positive and long-term change. You have tremendous knowledge and skills as a nurse. Use it to empower each other and create a workplace that is positive and exciting.

How do you improve morale and avoid burnout?

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Comments

  1. Jan says

    Read your March 4, post, found it by searching how to improve nurses morale…. looking for mainly how to boost My Morale! I am a part time RN – Chemical Dependency detox Minneapolis., 3-5 days is the average stay of our pt. Many repeat pt’s. Some have been there 20 times within a year. Some have been through treatment 6 times or more. We have a typical admission rate of 7 in a 24 hr period, and 5 – 6 discharges in a 24 hr period.
    We rarely get a half hour for lunch, and breaks have never been even considered.
    Wanted to let you know I appreciated what you wrote about gossip, I adhere to your advice, difficult at times.
    Bit, I feel I am poor for morale when the other nurses hear me say “I hate my job”
    I feel trapped, make really good money, not gonna make this kinda money anywhere else… 56 years old, not feeling competent or energized to take on a new field of nursing. So I pray a lot, and thank God I’m only a .5.

    • says

      Jan,

      Your lunch break. You are entitled to an uninterrupted break at your meal time. I strongly encourage you contact your state labor board and inform them that you are not being given that. You’d be surprised at how quickly a simple phone call can right the ship on something like that.

      I am so glad that you found my article helpful.

      Your mood is contagious. And your enjoyment of your work is often what you make it. You have, what sounds like, a very difficult and stressful job. What I might try to do, if I were you, is employ the “fake it until you make it technique” and constantly tell myself that “I Love my job” and do my very best to to be positive and uplifting when speaking about work.
      It’s easy to get wrapped up in the pitfalls our or jobs, but try and remember that we still have them when many don’t.
      I am so proud that you refrain from gossip. This will make your transition to boosting your morale easier. You’ll often get support from your coworkers because you’ve done your best to stay a neutral party.

      Money is important, but it’s not all there is that you need to focus on. Depending on how long you have been with your current employer, you may want to consider looking elsewhere. I very stubbornly, and foolishly, stayed in a position that I was miserable in because I was standing my ground and standing up for myself. In the long run, I would have been much happier much sooner if I had just moved on.

      Jan I wish you the BEST of luck.

      Keep talking to God. He’ll help you make the right decisions.

      Have faith and be strong.

  2. says

    Great piece, thanks NN -
    We Nurses, like anyone, need to figure out what our goals are – not just getting through another shift or a list of routine tasks or making a living – the spirit needs more. Why do we bother? What makes it all worthwhile? What are we striving towards? You can hardly hope to move forward without a plan and persistent action, and these require targets to aim at. Nurses who hunker down, take no risks and merely aim to get by risk sinking slowly, becoming less and less over time and degenerating into the sort of living, bitter cautionary tales we all have met here and there – one who wastes a life waiting to retire someday. We each can do better, but will you, reader? Only you can say, and only you can make it so – victim or hero in the story of your own life.

  3. says

    Gossip can really get you down and make you burn-out quickly in any profession. Avoid it at all costs. Staying motivated is another must – hopefully some grateful patients will help you along the way with that one.

  4. says

    I think this is a great topic and that nurses are often working under extraordinary stress. When I work my per diem 12 hour shifts on the week ends, (dementia unit) especially when we are short an LNA i slowly but surely see my “best self” slip away. Some of my work as a nurse consultant is aimed at preventing and addressing lateral violence and compassion fatigue, but honestly, sometimes it is tough to practice what I preach.

    I think organizations can help by ensuring safe staffing, creating opportunities where staff can spend time together not working, offer training in conflict management along with a work culture where time/energy allow for the practice of it, and provide support when signs of burnout appear. I know these things are not easy fixes and cost money, but ultimately safer care will save $$ and probably have a positive result on those patient surveys.

    Beth

  5. says

    Another tip – we need to emulate the Nerdy Nurse, find or make a place in Nursing we love. I found psych, and although I’ve had my times paying dues, on the whole I can’t get enough: I have fun, and I do good, and I get paid. Now THAT’s a fine way to reduce burnout, not perfect but it sure helps. Most areas of Nursing would be less of a fit, and I feel stress just thinking about it. We don’t need to become every kind of Nurse, and life’s too short to pull it off anyway: Nursing is a miniature universe we can explore and find a place to call home.

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