If Left Untreated: The Fallout of Nurse Fatigue and Burnout

It seems like only yesterday we were raising the flag on the importance of our nurses and their impact on quality outcomes and patient care always, but particularly in the midst of a global pandemic. But our universal fatigue of Covid-19 has quieted the excitement and the accolades for the unsung nursing heroes who continue to take care of patients as they always have. And to add insult to injury, in the midst of this situation, we continue to experience a shortage of healthcare professionals.

The pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. We cannot let our fatigue get in the way of appreciating and supporting nurses during this difficult time. Nurses are known for being “caregivers” versus “care receivers,” always thinking of the patient. Now, nurses are caring for patients who are sicker, one right after the next, requiring care that is more intensive. Yet we are seeing the nurse also expected to care for a higher patient load and acuity. Nurses are working longer and harder hours, and then being asked to work additional shifts to cover shortages. What is this doing to our nurses – both short-term and long-term?

“Nurse burnout is a physical, mental, and emotional state caused by chronic overwork and a sustained lack of job fulfillment and support. Common burnout symptoms may include physical or emotional exhaustion, job-related cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. Rather than improving on its own, untreated burnout may lead to clinical depression, as unaddressed symptoms compound over time” (Nurse.org)

We cannot give up on the support that we provide to our valued healthcare workers. We need to provide resources and relief now. We need to continue to acknowledge their tremendous value to our healthcare system. This should be through words, education, resources, support, and good deeds.

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Words of gratitude and acknowledgement go a long way. Education can be provided through resources on well-being and mental health, mobile apps, or even YouTube. Recently, Conexus MedStaff provided webinars to our nurses presented by a Clinical Educator on identifying nurse fatigue/burnout and ways to care for themselves. Additionally, we provided education for our managers who support our nurses. Support can be providing an ear when the nurse has had a particularly hard day or they have questions on how to communicate the need for additional support in their healthcare facility. And finally, remember hearing about all the good deeds that communities, businesses and whole cities were providing to our healthcare heroes when Covid first struck? Don’t stop! Let’s pick up where we left off -fight the fatigue and give energy back to our frontline heroes!

We have come so far in shining the light on healthcare workers and their value and their impact and their importance to all of us. Let’s not let our fatigue get in the way of the accolades and support they deserve.


Cathy Vollmer

Cathy Vollmer
A registered nurse, Cathy Vollmer is VP of operations at Conexus Medstaff.

Cathy Vollmer

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