Nurse Burnout Won’t go Away Until the Industry Changes. But in the Meantime, Mindfulness can Help Nurses Prioritize Their Well-Being.
This past November I attended a workshop on nurse burnout at the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread in Racine, Wisconsin. Clinical nurses, administrators, and researchers came together for three days to discuss this pressing issue that is epidemic in nursing. One survey found that almost half of nurses are burned out, meaning they’re so overwhelmed by the job that they’ve lost the capacity to really care about it or their patients.
I tend to be suspicious of talk about mindfulness in health care because it seems to place the onus for change on individuals instead of the overall system.
Several of the workshop presenters discussed “Mindfulness” as a way to alleviate burnout. I tend to be suspicious of talk about mindfulness in health care because it seems to place the onus for change on individuals instead of the overall system. I also admit to being unsure of what mindfulness means for individuals, especially when they have highly chaotic and at times dysfunctional work environments.
I can’t even begin to count how many ear infections I had as a kid. I could do the three block walk down Park Avenue to Dr. Grunfeld’s office with my eyes closed. With his puffy hair circling the bald spot on the top of his head, glasses tilted down to his nose, and thick Austrian accent, “Vell Lee-lee, vat have vee here”, he’d stick his otoscope into each ear. Nine times out ten the right one was the problem.