The Burnout of a Nursing Assistant

The health care industry is well known for high turnover of staff, a lot of this due to burn out of staff who are expected to maintain an air of professional detachment in the face of severe illness, terrible injuries, and death of patients. Nurse assistants tend to be people with a high degree of empathy for others, so it is hardly surprising that so many eventually feel the effects of severe emotional stress.

The surprising wonder is that so many manage to work a lifetime without being affected but these people are not the norm, and anyone planning to undertake a course of study to sit the nurse assistant state exam should understand that at some point in their career they are going to be affected by the suffering the see around them. This type of stress is typically called ‘burnout’ and manifests itself in an overwhelming lack of motivation. The affects vary from person to person, from mild burnout a holiday will solve, to serious burnout that can only be relieved through counseling.

Working with a number of different patients in a shift, some of whom need a lot of attention can put a lot of pressure on nurse assistants during their shift, giving them the sense their workload is higher than they can reasonably work to, and leaving them tired day after day. Eventually it’s possible for this tiredness to lead to exhaustion which results in both mental and physical symptoms that make it difficult to cope. Unfortunately in the majority of cases taking time off work, sometimes far in excess of contracted days off then becomes a reality.

The specific symptoms of burnout are feelings of exhaustion, being cynical, lacking motivation, and being inefficient at work. People suffering from burnout often say that there is no hope, problems cannot be solved, and they lack the energy to care. Burnt out people feel overloaded and unable to deal with the demands of their employers or family and friends.

Burn out is a serious issue and needs to be addressed as soon you start to feel under pressure and not left to become a problem. Seeking assistance from support groups or counselors is your right and has been proven to be effective in countless situations, however failing to ask for help is the single most common way to ensure problems compound themselves and eventually leads to incapacity. Sadly this is all too common amongst nurse assistants contributing to the high turnover rate in the industry, yet could be avoided so easily.

Solutions to burnout are not simple or quick; the human mind takes time to reach burn out stage, and will take time to heal as well. There are however, steps that the nurse assistant can take to cope with burnout such as addressing the problems that caused burnout in the first place. Being proactive and more assertive may be necessary to reduce the causes of burnout, as well as clarifying what is expected and if needed, asking for a change of duties.

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