Burnout Re-Ignited With One Question

While burnout runs rampant in healthcare, leaders must do everything within their power to replenish themselves and connect with their team members in a meaningful way. Frontline staff and managers alike are exhausted, making it difficult to focus on the good things.

Ending a Shift on a Positive Note

Years ago, while working nights as a staff nurse, I had a wise manager who knew just what to do to help me leave work on a positive note. After one grueling shift when I had been running non-stop to keep up with my patients, she met me at the time clock when I was about to clock out. She held up her index finger and said, “One thing. Before you leave, I want you to tell me one thing that you feel good about from tonight’s shift.”

Why would she ask me this? Because she could see the stress and exhaustion on my face. She knew that I was thinking about all the things that hadn’t been done that I wanted to do. She knew that my standards for service were high and, when working short-staffed, I would be focusing on what I hadn’t been able to do rather than what I had done.

I remember one morning when she asked me to name one thing. I had to think. Being so busy just trying to keep up, I nearly cried when she asked because I couldn’t think of anything. She patiently waited while I thought. Before long, I came up with a few seemingly small things. I had a call with a worried husband and reassured him about his wife’s condition. I also spent time helping a new nurse with a complicated procedure. She reminded me that these mattered to the patients, their families, and my team. Then she added, “Now take those home with you and remember how you make a difference every day.”

Connecting to Purpose

Whether it’s asking someone else to recount the ways they made a difference or asking yourself the same question, this simple exercise helps to anchor us in our connection to purpose. It’s not a cure for burnout, but it does help re-ignite the passion.

As a leader, if you’re trying your best to stay ahead of burnout, I highly recommend our course, Be the Leader Nobody Wants to Leave. This is a comprehensive eight-week course on leadership. Two of the areas we focus on is spotting levels of engagement and fostering a sense of purpose – two keys to managing burnout.

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