My Nursing Journey of Burnout in Healthcare
April 18, 2022 by Christine Zethraus, PMHNP-BC
My Burnout Beginning
Burnout is REAL. Burnout is definitely real if you’re a healthcare worker. Then throw additional gasoline on burnout if you’re a nurse working in the pandemic. Double it if you’re a nurse working the ICU.
Before I became a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, I worked as an ICU nurse for 5 years in a Level I Trauma Center. What does a “Level I Trauma Center” mean? Level I Trauma Center means my patients had a variety of life-threatening critical injuries such as gunshot wounds, car wrecks, plane crashes, strokes, sepsis, etc. Think constant extreme stress (fight or flight).
I purposely choose to work in the ICU because I knew this intense training and experience would be beneficial for my planned advanced nursing school. Quite frankly I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Looking back, I’m actually grateful I was naïve about my new adventure because this was the beginning of my nurse burnout story. The beginning of my nursing burnout signs affecting my emotional and physical well-being.
Hint: I didn’t listen or see the burnout signs.
Fast forward 12 years later where I am now a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner working during the Covid-19 Pandemic dealing with a different kind of trauma. An emotional one. And I’m not just talking about my patients. My own personal emotional trauma of FEAR. Fear of getting covid, fear we are all going to die, fear I would need heart surgery because of my long covid symptoms, fear there would be no food on the shelves, fear my lung damage due to long-covid, fear my family would die, and fear the world was ending.
I made the assumption my healthcare professional burnout was because of working during the pandemic. Nope. My burnout started long before working in mental health during the pandemic. My burnout started in nursing school when I put everyone and everything else before my own well-being. My burnout started when I was not myself a priority.
I first noticed my burnout symptoms when I had Coronavirus then Long-Covid Symptoms in 2020. Having Long-Covid forced me to slow down, forced me to re-evaluate what’s important, forced me to make myself priority. I had no other choice because I was on a path to chronic illness, auto-immune disease and most likely early death.
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