Personal Involvement and Burnout in Nursing

Categories: Nursing
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The helping professions, including nursing, are characterized by the fact that they are not something external to the individual, but encompass the whole person. The activities performed by nurses, require a personal commitment and direct interaction with people. Therefore, it is common to work with the most intense aspects of patient care (pain, anger, frustration, fear, death, etc.). All this, plus small, medium or large daily doses of stress can cause nurses to have a predisposition to experience some degree of burnout, which can lead to the manifestation of unfavorable attitudes and feelings, both for the professional and the person who receives their service (Wright, 2011).

This set of attitudes and feelings lead to the so-called “Nurse Burnout.” That’s why I wanted to address this issue, because it is clearly a very important factor when caring for a patient, because this depends on the quality of care nurses provide and our own faith that what we do helps them. Nurse burnout is not like every other type of stress, it’s a process that graduallly develops, and it mainly covers 3 dimensions:

  1. Emotional exhaustion: This is due to a reduction of one’s own emotional resources and the feeling that we have nothing to offer others, and psychologic manifestations, such as depression, anxiety, and irritability
  2. Depersonalization: Refers to the development of negative attitudes and insensitivity towards patients, as well as to colleagues.

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    This leads to the idea that “others” are the real source of the problems. As a result, we enter the final phase:

  3. Lack of personal accomplishment: The perception that the chances of achieving the desired objective at a health community have disappeard, along with experiences of failure and feelings of low self steem.

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    Experiences of stress which trigger responses in the individual, if maintained over time, cause changes in his/her adaptation. These responses mediate the stressor-health relationship.

In the implications of burnout we can differentiate those derived for the individual himself and those derived for the organization (McHugh, 2011). The nurse suffering from Burnout becomes a rigid, stubborn and inflexible person, blocking the progress and changes, to the extent that they require new adaptation efforts. The nurse is also viewed as a cynical person, appearing unmotivated, unsympathetic and even aggressive with patients with a distant and dehumanizing treatment towards them (Witkoski, 2012).

The most important consequences on the organization can include a decreased job satisfaction, low or no interest in work activities, deterioration of the quality of service, increased accidents, and low job involvement. This burnout prevents nurses from evolving, and leads to fatigue. Fatigue causes stress, and stress can also lead to many health problems, such as hypertension, palpitations, tachycardia, and menstrual alterations. In every hospital, there is always going to be nurses who are more prone to burnout than others, especially those who work in units in which patients have chronic illnesses, terminal diseases, and/or are more dangerous than other patients.

How can nurses avoid or treat a burnout? There is many interventions designed for nurses, and can be classified as individual or as a group in the working place. One of the effective ways to avoid burnout is to forget work problems after a shift, take short breaks during work, or make a goal/ objective before starting a shift and make sure that you discuss successes and dissatisfactions at the end of a shift. Making friendships with other nurses can be satisfactory and motivating, as well as asking for help when the amount of work is excessive or when you are not preparared for it. Sharing doubts and opinions with other nurses is also helpful. It is extemely imporant to not ignore problems, and instead stablish an action plan to solve them.

As a group in a health facility, it is recommended to take a few minutes to listen to what other nurses have to say, to help new nurses get used to the system, to respect others, and to make others feel comfortable, but most importantly to promote collaboration. It is very imporant to change our attitude when facing times of stress. Organization is essential in every case to bring together innumerable tasks, and take note of diverse situations to achieve goals. It has also been reccommended to have a relaxation technique to decrease stress and help concentrate in the moment and manage your thinking around work, such as yoga, meditation exercises, or educational classes to promote an escape from thoughts about work, and prevent burnout (Wright, 2011).


Morse, G. (2012). Burnout in mental health services: A review of the problem and its remediation. Adm Policy Ment Health, 39(5), 341-352 McHugh, M., Wright,. (2011). Nurses’ widespread job dissatisfaction, burnout, and frustration with health benefits signal problems for patient care. Health Affairs, 30(2), 202-210 Witkoski, A. (2012). The longer the shifts for hospital nurses, the higher the levels of burnout and patient dissatisfaction. Health Affairs, 31(11), 2501-2509

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Personal Involvement and Burnout in Nursing. (2016, Feb 26). Retrieved from

Personal Involvement and Burnout in Nursing
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