Addressing the Challenge of Nurse Burnout

Nursing is a cornerstone in the healthcare system, pivotal in patient care and recovery. Its importance cannot be overstated. However, a growing concern in this noble profession is the issue of burnout. Recent studies have highlighted the alarming prevalence of burnout among nurses, shedding light on a problem that needs urgent attention. According to a 2020 survey from AHA, almost two-thirds of nurses (62%) experience burnout. This is also prevalent with younger nurses, with 69% of nurses under 25 reporting burnout.

Understanding Nurse Burnout

Burnout is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, often accompanied by cynicism and detachment. For nurses, the symptoms can manifest as fatigue, irritability, reduced empathy towards patients, and feeling overwhelmed. While both stress and burnout involve emotional exhaustion, the critical difference is that stress typically involves excessive engagement, while burnout is characterized by disengagement and a lack of motivation.

Causes of Nurse Burnout

Several factors contribute to nurse burnout. High patient loads and long shifts without adequate breaks can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion. The emotional toll of seeing patients suffer, especially in critical care units, can be overwhelming. Additionally, nurses need more resources and support to feel included. Furthermore, organizational issues such as inadequate staffing and a toxic workplace culture can exacerbate feelings of burnout.

Impact of Burnout on Nurses and Patient Care

According to Maslach’s conceptualization, burnout is a response to excessive stress at work, which is characterized by feelings of being emotionally drained and lacking emotional resources—Emotional Exhaustion; by a negative and detached response to other people and loss of idealism—Depersonalisation; and by a decline in feelings of competence and performance at work—reduced Personal Accomplishment [7].

Burnout doesn’t just affect the nurses; it has a ripple effect on patient care. Nurses’ physical and mental health deteriorates, leading to absenteeism and even resignations. This results in decreased job satisfaction and increased turnover, which can strain healthcare systems. More critically, exhausted and disengaged nurses can inadvertently compromise patient safety and the overall quality of care they provide.

Strategies to Address and Prevent Nurse Burnout

Addressing nurse burnout requires a multi-faceted approach:

  • Regular breaks during shifts and ensuring manageable work hours can help nurses recharge.
  • Mental health resources and counseling should be readily available, offering nurses a safe space to discuss their feelings and challenges.
  • Open communication channels between nursing staff and management can foster a culture of understanding and support.
  • Continuous training ensures that nurses are equipped with the latest skills and knowledge, reducing feelings of inadequacy.
  • Lastly, healthcare institutions must prioritize creating a positive and supportive workplace culture where nurses feel valued and heard.


The importance of addressing nurse burnout should be emphasized more. As the backbone of healthcare, nurses deserve a work environment that supports their well-being. It’s a call to action for all healthcare institutions to recognize the signs and take proactive measures, ensuring the well-being of their nursing staff and, by extension, the patients they care for.


Ready to get started?

EverCheck simplifies how you manage vital primary source data and real-time insights for smart compliance. Begin a conversation with one of our experts today.

Satisfy your curiosity.

Tell us a little about yourself and we'll be in touch to schedule a personalized demo.