Travel Nursing: The Cure to Nurse Stress and Burnout

Travel Nursing: The Cure to Nurse Stress and Burnout

By Kristy Snyder, Contributor

Nurse stress and burnout is a growing problem facing many of the country’s best hospital teams. With increasing patient care responsibilities, regulations and long shifts; it’s no surprise that nurses feel stressed regularly. 

Luckily, nurse stress and burnout doesn’t have to be an accepted norm. Our expert breaks down how nurses can easily de-stress and get back to a healthier mental state.  

STRESS LESS Learn more about how to take a travel nursing assignment

What Creates Nurse Stress and Burnout?

Rebecca J. Erickson, a Professor of Sociology at The University of Akron, has done extensive research on the role of stress on practicing nurses. In her opinion, “time demands remain a leading cause of burnout.”

In particular, she cites not having enough time to provide the type of quality patient care that nurses desire as a huge factor in stress. Documentation processes and technologies as well as lack of perceived support from coworkers and supervisors also contribute to stress. 

Numerous studies have proven that having problematic relationships among team members increases the rate of burnout.

“Each of these can affect travel nurses,” said Erickson, “but the problems can be exacerbated for these nurses who may, being new to the organization, being given shifting and more difficult unit assignments.”

Learning Nurse Stress Management Techniques

So what can you do to feel less stressed on the job?

Naturally, things like getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly are easy, effective solutions.

But according to Erickson, building a social network is just as, if not more, important for nurses.

“Strong relationships with other nurses is a key way to mediate the effect of stressors on burnout,” said Erickson. Therefore, she recommends that “being intentional about the development of a social support network is likely to be key to combatting the negative effects of stressors.”

This means you’ve got to take time to keep in touch with friends and family, even when you’re on the go. Make time for calls, plan social outings, and have a trusted person to vent your workday frustrations to.

How Nursing Leadership Can Help a Stressed Travel Nurse

Being stressed or burned out isn’t entirely on your shoulders – your nursing supervisor is also there to help.

According to Erickson, a good nursing leader won’t just stand by and hope the staff survives. Instead, they’ll “walk a day in their shoes” by spending direct time with the unit to experience exactly what the nurses do. This allows them to listen to concerns as well as provide positive feedback directly on the spot, boosting your morale.

By doing these things regularly, nursing leadership is more “likely to reap the rewards of higher levels of engagement and quality patient care.”

Don’t Let Nurse Burnout Win

Some nurses become so burned out that they consider giving up their nursing ambitions for good. For those that feel this way, Erickson suggests keeping a journal in their car to jot down thoughts and emotions after each shift.

“Sometimes it is possible for all of us to focus on the negative – particularly in hindsight,” said Erickson. “So keeping track of one’s mood at the end of the day can be one way to obtain insight into the extent to which they really are feeling like they just can’t do this anymore.”

At the end of the day, nurse stress and burnout isn’t something you can just wish away. However, with a keen focus on your social connections, you’ll be able to reap all the benefits of nursing without getting bogged down.


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