Our old nemesis burnout is not a new face. As workers in the medical field, we are constantly facing staffing shortages, adrenaline-fueled shifts, emotionally-heavy patient losses, and general frustrations with staff, management, and our own patients. We’ve seen it in ourselves, and in our coworkers, and we know to be wary of it. But now, as our country rallies to the threat of COVID 19 pandemic, we are perhaps more vulnerable to burnout now than ever.
COVID 19 Statistics in the U.S.
As of April 23, 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control, our country has over 850,000 confirmed cases of COVID 19, and more than 45,000 COVID 19 deaths. Our work is not yet done, and it continues to spread, continues to build.
Working PRN shifts and Burnout
In the face of the overwhelming COVID 19 numbers, medical care workers are often working extremely long hours. Some of you may be working with equipment restrictions due to shortages. Some of you may already be employed at one medical facility, but are also picking up PRN shifts at a neighboring location. Some of you are busy at home taking care of home and family, but picking up PRN shifts as your schedule allows. Picking up those PRN shifts is a huge help to those hospitals, but the further you stretch yourself, the riper you are for the burnout to get you.
Be aware that you are vulnerable to burnout in this trying time. Are you cranky? Are you sad? Are you overwhelmed? Are you exhausted? Just getting through your shift doesn’t mean you are okay. After shifts, before shifts, and all your time in between, take the time to assess how you feel and how you are responding to people around you.
Your Sleep Health
Make sure you are getting a full night’s sleep (or day rather if you work night shifts). The Sleep Foundation recommends that adults ages 18-64 need seven to nine hours of sleep. Ask yourself, are you getting enough? If not, can you arrange your day to get that amount of sleep? Are you getting too much? If you are sleeping more than that, ask yourself why?
Your Emotional Health
Are you quick to anger? Or just irritable? Are you overwhelmed? Are you sad or depressed? These emotions are normal in a time such as this, but if they are persistent feelings, you might consider asking for help. Virtual mental health service provider, Talkspace, has recognized the rising vulnerability to burn out for COVID 19 healthcare providers and in response is offering various online mental health services to support pandemic workers right now. Per their COVID 19 resources page they are currently offering:
- Free therapist-led Facebook support groups
- 16-day anxiety relief program to reduce and manage fear about COVID-19
- 2,100 free months donation program for health care workers and first-responders
- Ongoing support and resources from our network of licensed therapists
- Discounted subscriptions for all
Your Physical Health
Junk food might be a quick fix for your cravings, but in times of extreme stress your body needs more than chocolate, ice cream, and chips. Make an effort to eat real meals, and mix it up with some healthy snacks while you are at it. Taking care of your body will help you take care of yourself.
Fresh air is another thing your body needs. Even if you aren’t athletically inclined, taking a walk or bike ride around your block, or walking a nearby hiking trail can do wonders for your physical health and your emotional health. Keep in mind while out in the fresh air, the CDC recommends that you should still be aware of your distance to others, keeping a minimum of six feet between yourself and anyone else you encounter.
While we are restricted or limited in having physical contact with others, it doesn’t mean we should avoid connecting with others altogether. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we can still connect with our loved ones who reside in other homes, other states. Make a point of doing video calls with friends and family members. Video call someone you care about while you cook a meal, or fold laundry, or go on a walk outdoors.
Arm Yourself with Knowledge
Knowledge about this pandemic and the challenges nursing professionals are facing or will face can help boost your confidence, and make things that may seem overwhelming or unmanageable more under your control. Here are some resources for free COVID 19 training certifications available:
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses has created an eLearning course titled COVID-19 Pulmonary, ARDS and Ventilator Resources, available here, for free.
- IntelyCare is a software management company for healthcare systems and has put together a course titled COVID-19 Nurse Training Certification, available here, for free.
- The American Nurses Association is offering their course, Be Confident Protecting Yourself and Providing the Best Care to Your Patients during this COVID-19 Pandemic – On Demand, for free, available here.
How Nursa™ is Helping
We provide RNs, LPNs, CNAs and CMAs, a platform through our application that allows users to register and create their professional profile. Within our app, licenses and certifications can be uploaded, verified, and saved. Our users can then search for PRN shifts at hospitals and medical facilities near their location. When a user finds a PRN shift that they want to work, they can apply for the shift directly through the app, directly with the medical facility and share their licensing information and certifications. We furthermore offer ShiftShare™, which is our program that allows users to share a shift with another nurse who may be able to work the shift. If the referred nurse indeed accepts and fills the shift that was shared, the original user receives compensation. Our users are helping to fill PRN shifts even when they themselves can’t work the shift. Connecting our RNs, LPNs, CNAs, and CMAs to each other and to hospitals and medical facilities is helping to ease shift burdens.