Nursing school burnout is a reality for many student nurses, and burnout has immense impacts on the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of student nurses, just like practicing nurses.
Nevertheless, most nursing students do not know that, just like working nurses, they can experience burnout.
Even the fraction of nursing students that know they can experience burnout does not know how to overcome it.
Nursing students must identify burnout and use recommended strategies to overcome it. And in this post, you will discover everything you need to know about overcoming burnout as a nursing student.
There are several reasons why nursing students experience burnout.
Nursing school burnout results from tight schedules, endless assignments, life-work-study balance, untamed expectations, stress, and lack of social support, among other factors.
Let's explore each in detail.
The main reason why nursing students experience burnout is because of the workload they are supposed to handle in nursing school.
The typical nursing school involves loads of academic work, including reading, writing assignments, and preparing for rigorous exams every semester. This sort of work is draining and can easily lead to burnout.
Nursing students usually do not get any rest; they have plenty of work to do from the start of nursing school until graduation. This means they often do not have time to rest adequately or fully reset.
Lack of sufficient time to rest, especially in the form of a week-long holiday for a full reset, almost always leads to burnout in most professions. The case is the same for nursing school students.
Nursing students are typically under very high pressure to perform, and this is because most nursing schools have very high pass grades.
Therefore, nurses must constantly be on their toes to keep their grades up if they want to graduate on time.
This high pressure usually leads potential nurses to experience burnout because of the effort they put in to get good grades consistently.
Poor treatment in clinical settings can lead to burnout in nursing students. Most nursing schools have courses or programs that require nursing students to be taught in natural clinical settings by actual nurses.
While some student nurses have a positive experience in such settings, many usually end up experiencing a lot of work stress in such settings caused by rudeness, incivility, and too much work. Such things can lead to burnout.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many nursing schools moved many courses online. Despite widespread vaccination and the resumption of class learning in many places, many nursing schools still allow online learning.
While online learning has advantages, it also has disadvantages, including hardware and software frustrations, long hours of learning, and so on. These things can and do often lead to nursing student burnout.
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The majority of nursing school students are usually from out of town. Therefore, they often don�t have family, friends, or partners around. This often leads to isolation and loneliness. And when you combine these things with the typical demanding nursing school workload, you can quickly see how they can lead to burnout.
If you think you are experiencing burnout but are unsure, check out the top signs of burnout below. The signs below should make it crystal clear that you are experiencing burnout.
You can only do so much as a nursing student, especially if you juggle work, studies, and personal stuff. Sometimes, it becomes apparent that you cannot take it anymore.
Your mental, physical, and emotional capacity is sometimes overwhelmed. That's normal in nursing school; chances are that nursing school burnout has finally caught up with you.
You will need to keep up with the classes, complete assignments, and homework, memorize, read widely, research, and develop some skills. Add that to family responsibilities, maintaining a social life, and other obligations, and you find a good recipe for endless exhaustion.
Below are the top tips to help you overcome burnout in nursing school as per our experts, research, and feedback from those that have passed through nursing school.
When you feel like you are too tired, too exhausted, and too pessimistic, the best cure for all these things is to take a break from everything.
If you can, take a semester off and travel back to your hometown, vacation, or visit your relative on the other side of the country. It doesn't matter where you go; make sure it is where you will get both physical and mental rest. Somewhere where you can fully relax and have fun.
Taking a break from everything, relaxing, and having fun will give you the rest you need to recharge and return to nursing fully rejuvenated.
You need to find something you enjoy doing and set aside time to do it daily or weekly while at nursing school.
It could be playing a sport, powerlifting, taking a walk, hiking, visiting art studios, writing restaurant reviews, planting trees, volunteering, making videos, or even gaming. Just sit down with yourself and decide what you like.
If you cannot yet identify something, ask your friends what they can see you doing as a hobby and try those things out.
Pursuing a hobby will inject doses of fun and excitement into your life and give you something to look forward to every day or every week. This will reduce the adverse mental effects of burnout.
Many hobbies can also help you to stay active, energetic, and positive, e.g., hiking, playing a sport, and powerlifting.
Burnout almost always leads to negative feelings, depression, and anxiety.
You can start feeling worthless and undeserving of anything when you constantly experience burnout.
Unfortunately, you can end up accepting these feelings, going even further down the rabbit hole, and letting your body and self-esteem go. Investing in yourself is a great way to beat burnout because it enhances your self-esteem, self-worth, and image of yourself.
You can invest in yourself by regularly buying yourself nice clothes, gym membership, yoga sessions, spa treatment, massage therapy, or premium grooming.
When you start saving money, it will affect you - it will make you feel happier, less worried, and less stressed.
As a nursing student, you are most likely to experience burnout symptoms if you are handling a massive workload at school and your part-time job.
You are also likely to experience burnout symptoms if you constantly worry about having money to survive next week or to survive if you decide to quit.
One way to reduce this worry and anxiety is to start saving money and putting something into your savings account weekly. If you do this, you will soon have financial peace of mind making you less likely to experience many burnout symptoms.
Your situation now is not the same as a couple of weeks or months ago. It won't be the same in the next couple of days, weeks, or months. To be precise, you need to recognize this current situation as a phase - a passing phase.
It will not last forever. So hang in there and try your best to fight the burnout symptoms you are experiencing. The symptoms are usually physical. Sign up at a local gym to train. This will help you feel active and energetic again.
Of course, you must combine the training with a good diet and at least 7 hours of sleep daily; training in the gym alone is not enough.
Why did you decide to get training to become a nurse? Was it to help people? To achieve a dream? To serve the underprivileged? What was it? Remind yourself of that now that you are finding the going difficult.
Remembering what made you pursue a degree in nursing will give you the energy and focus you need to get back on track.
It will return you to the positive mental space you were in when you got the mail or email that you had been accepted into your dream nursing school.
Moreover, it will help to negate the negative thoughts and symptoms associated with burnout.
Negative thoughts and attitudes will not help you in any way. When you are feeling down and tired, the last thing you want to do is to continue entertaining negative self-talk and attitude.
This is because negative self-talk will lead you down a negative spiral that will make you see your situation negatively. A negative mindset will have you turning every molehill into a mountain.
Of course, this is not a winning attitude. You've got to stop negative thoughts. If there is a negative situation and nothing you can do about it, ignore it; let it be. Live your life stoically. Do your best and smile through the pain. The situation will pass.
If you constantly feel tired or drained, maybe it is because you have too much on your plate (figuratively).
This is pretty common for most nursing students as they have to handle assignments, tasks, projects, skills labs, exams, online classes, and so on. If you don't have time to do everything this semester, you can postpone some things to the next semester.
Visit your school's academic counselor for expert advice on how to do this. If they cannot help you postpone things, they can help you to make a better schedule.
Getting out as much as possible, especially when the sun is out, should be your goal. The sunlight and fresh air outdoors can help to improve your mood and mental state. When you go outdoors, try to enjoy every moment in nature.
Observe and never get annoyed or disappointed with anything. If you can, go out with your friends and family. Doing so will make your outings even more enjoyable and pleasurable. Afternoons, evenings, and/or weekends spent in happiness in the outdoors will alleviate most burnout symptoms.
Many people do not know that the symptoms of burnout and depression overlap. What may look like burnout to you may, in reality, be depression.
Therefore, if you try any or most of the solutions above and you don't get relief from the symptoms, it could be that you are experiencing depression.
So make plans to see a psychiatrist to get the help you need. A psychiatrist is trained to diagnose depression.
When you visit one, they can tell you if you have burnout or depression; they know how to distinguish the two conditions. If they conclude you are depressed, they will prescribe medicine and maybe therapy to help you overcome it.
Nursing school is tough, but you've got to be tougher to survive and get your degree.
Ensure you pick the right specialization or field to do something that interests you. Also, choose an appropriate program and understand the best times to read when you concentrate. You must also plan your time, take a break, and convince yourself, "I got this."
If possible, have a group of friends in nursing school to spice up your nursing school experience. Self-care is also necessary: go on dates, camping, hiking, or window shopping. You can also join the gym, do sports activities, jog, or volunteer; all these help to get through nursing school without experiencing nursing student burnout.
Follow the solutions above to overcome the symptoms of burnout brought about by the typically demanding nursing school schedule.
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