I often speak with nurses and other caregivers who are burned or burning out. It makes me sad when I see it and yet I can see how it happens. The first word in caregiver is care. And the truth is that many of them care but are fatigued. They’ve cared for so many for long that they are tired out and struggling to get their mojo back.
One of the keys to avoiding burnout is staying connected to purpose. That doesn’t just happen by chance. It has to be managed by design. I found that as I matured in my nursing practice I needed a way to re-connect with my purpose and passion. One of the ways I did that, and a practice I still keep today, is through journaling. I try to spend a few minutes daily on reflection and journaling. Even if you don’t love writing, it is an exercise that can help you maintain the heart and passion for your work.
The easiest journaling exercise that I use in preventing burnout and helping healthcare workers to stay connected to purpose is describing one thing they did that day that made a difference in the life of a patient or a co-worker.
Mark my words, your care team is working really hard. They have a task list as long as their arms heading into every shift. And at the end of the day, chances are good that they feel like they barely made a dent. Even if they could check off the majority of the tasks, many will leave their shift focusing on the one or ones left undone. If they can learn to take to heart the things that made a difference, they will be fueling their sense of purpose.
At one point in my career I worked with a manger who taught me the importance of this. She would meet us at the time clock after a grueling shift and simply say, “Name one thing.” We all knew what she meant. It was her way of reminding us to focus on what we did rather than didn’t do. She knew that without the reminder, many of us would leave feeling unfulfilled when in fact we had lots to be proud of.
Whether you work in direct patient care or serve others who serve patients, chances are you need this as well. So here you go. Here is your exercise in preventing burnout. Pick up a notebook or create an electronic file to serve as your journal and start by answering this question; what is one thing you did today to make a difference in the life of another?
The Nurse/Patient Partnership class helps re-ignite the spirit of nursing while building leadership skills for coaching a high performing team.