New Journey in Nursing & Life!

Nursing is a hard profession! There are highs and lows, and it isn’t for the faint of heart! When I started in nursing and still today, it was for the clients. Really, throughout my nursing career I really didn’t have any issues with my clients. It’s just the healthcare system itself is rigged against the safety of our clients, and our staff. It isn’t anymore fair to them that we have huge patient loads than it is to us. My mom currently is in a facility for rehabilitation following a very serious illness. The poor nurses are very much over worked, and to see it from the other side was horrible also. Imagine, having to wait for a pain medication for your family ┬ámember for over an hour, because the clients nurse has 40 patients she is taking care of, and she just simply can’t get there. The nurse in me feels for the other nurse, but the family member part of me, doesn’t care, that is my mom! So I understand both sides. These types of scenarios is what led me to become burnout in nursing. As I have been leaning about nursing burnout and it’s cause. I feel like it isn’t necessarily that I don’t want to be a nurse anymore. I still have a deep passion for nursing! I think I just need a change, not just in nursing, but in how I cope with stress. So that led me to take up various hobbies, and starting my Journey to my Master in Education in Nursing!

Writing

I have always enjoyed writing. I like the research process and even writing papers. Now sometimes in nursing school your required to write so many papers you wanna pull your hair out! When I suffered with depression as a teenager, I kept a journal and it was really helpful. There is something therapeutic about getting your feelings out on paper and then looking back, and being able to see any changes. So the first step of managing the symptoms of burnout I used was writing. This led me to stumble upon an old sketch book that I had started 20 years ago. It was really eye opening to see some of the writing in there, drawings, and poems that reflected my mood at the times. One thing I did notice my last entry was in 2009. That was depressing in itself. So that’s when I decided to start a blog, because writing in a sketch book is so 1997, ha! It is a very public way to go through feelings and emotions, but a good trade off if it helps, inspires, or other wise encourages just one person! So far it has been a wonderful journey. It has really helped me to get my feelings out on virtual paper now, and has encouraged me to reach for other goals in my life!

Crafts

So I decided I need hobbies! Something other than getting lost in my own thoughts and sleeping. So I have started making all sorts of things from pins, to necklaces, and coin purses.

It’s been so much fun, I even have my youngest son involved! I thought about trying to make things for his schools craft fair in November. That would give me 2 months to make things for it. It’s silly how much something like this can change your mood, but it really does. I thoroughly enjoy it! I actually want to pick up a few hours overtime here and there, because I think of all the craft supplies I can buy!

Education

Last, but not least, I am starting my Masters in Nursing Education on September 1st! I am really excited to see where this new degree will lead me in nursing. I have always wanted to be a nursing instructor, and this will get me closer to that. It is always really scary knowing I am back in NURSING SCHOOL!!! Nursing is hard and so is nursing school! I went back and forth, if it was the right time for me to do it. I decided it was for me, because I needed a change in my nursing career, and this was the best way to bring it about.

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I am going to be a super busy person! That’s good though, less time to think! Be ready for some, I can’t do this post, or I am overwhelmed! Until next time! Nurse on!

 

Nurse bullies: Is it an epidemic and how to stand-up!

Bullying is something we hear about in the news a lot in relation to schools. Something we don’t necessarily associate bullying with is the workforce, in-particular the field of nursing.  On the surface why would you, we are a group of professionals, who had to go through some strenuous training to make it out the other-side.  Every nurse as heard the phrase nurses “eat their young”. As a culture of nurses we have just accepted this to be true. This is not only with brand new nurses to the field, this can be a brand new nurse just to the facility, that is tying to adjust into the culture of the facility. The older nurses usually get blamed for the bullying! New nurses are actually starting to bully the older nurses. So another words it is EVERYONE! Nurse bullying is an epidemic and it is not because of the doctors. Not saying it doesn’t happen, because it does, but not on the scale of nurse to nurse bullying.  There are many theories as to why this is happening, and their are many arguments. Why is it becoming an epidemic ,and how does the victim stand-up, and get help.

Why is it becoming an epidemic?

Did you know in our workforce we have four generations working side by side? That alone is enough to cause major differences. It is also amazing of the wide range of experience, and expertise we can offer our clients, if we come together as a team! As stated before, the older generation tends to get the blame for bullying the younger nurses. This does go on, but it is not just them, and not on the scale that it has been blown up to be. New nurses as mentioned are graduating and are coming in bullying experienced nurses. Why would a new nurse, bully an experienced nurse? Again just like the older nurses, it is not every new nurse. Some are coming out with hyper-inflated self-esteems.  For instance, they just came out of school and have a Bachelors degree in nursing, but this “older” nurse only as an Associates degree,or maybe even a technical certificate. So they think, more education, hence better. What is not seen by (some) new nurses, is that the older nurse may only have a two year degree or technical certificate, but she has been working the floor for 25 years! Both nurses offer things to bring to the table, but they need to work together. That’s what we got to fix. So the epidemic is being caused by many things new nurses, old nurses, there has even been a suggestion of gender playing a role. Personally, I have experienced this. Nursing is a female dominated field. More and more male nurses are coming into the field, and I say bring them on! We need the balance! It is a proven fact the females get into competition with each other (more some than others), and that can lead to friction in the work place. It’s not attention from male counterparts either (sorry guys), it’s more professional competition now. Why can’t we just cheer each other on! Competition is fine, but so is cheering each other on, and ladies, guys have us beat hands down on that (as a general rule). Most of us have heard nurses say, I would rather work with men than women any day. In some situations I have been in, those words have came out of my mouth. The point is there are numerous contributing factors that can lead up to nurse bullying! If you happen to find yourself the recipient of bullying, now what?

 

How to stand-up? (Professionally of course)

When I say stand up, I don’t mean turn into Muhammad Ali! Image result for Boxer cartoon ali

For the sake of this article I am not talking about physical violence. That goes beyond just bullying , that is assault!  I am referencing name-calling, intimidation, threatening, ethnic jokes, slurs, and blaming to name a few. In my opinion, if it has reached physical violence, it has reached into the criminal realm. Think about it, if your were mowing your grass, and your neighbor of 16 years came over and said, “I hate how you mow grass, its ugly, and you don’t know what your doing”. And then proceeds to push you off your lawn mower. As your laying there ,your neighbor kicks you in the leg and says ” You better start mowing better, or else”, and then walks away. What would you do? Most people would want to go Muhammad Ali all on their neighbors face, but hopefully they would call the police, and they would handle it. Of course, if you have to protect yourself you would. But see the point I am making. It crosses a different line when violence enters in. So how do you professionally stand up to bulling behavior? The number one thing you can do is name the behavior. If for example, a supervisor is yelling at you in the middle of the nurses station, in front of other coworkers and patients/families, ask her to move to another location. Start to move toward the desired location. You could say “Patients and Families can hear you and you are screaming and yelling at me” (name the behavior). Another example can be, “I was told by another nurse, that you were bad mouthing how I give report (name the behavior), you could come to me with concerns” It doesn’t have to be completely confrontational, but the bully needs to know that you are not going to accept this behavior, and that you do recognize what they are trying to accomplish. This might not work, but it is still an important step to send the message to the bully this is not professional, and won’t be tolerated. You can do this in a professional way, there is no reason to resort to their methods, or now you have just become a bully yourself. Then start to write down the incidents, date, time, details! What do they tell you in nursing school? If you don’t document it, then it didn’t happen. That means if you have to go up the chain of command write down who you talked to, the result, and if they referred you to anyone. There is always a next person up. Just keep record of everything. Because if this person decides to escalate things, and somehow gets your job in jeopardy, you have a whole lot of evidence backing up a history of abuse, and steps you have taken to stop it. Now sometimes it is just easier to throw your hands up and move on. Some times that is the answer, and sometimes it is not. What if you landed your dream job? Everything was perfect, but the bullying. That would be worth sticking up for. So the situation is going to  be unique to everyone.

Conclusion

The main take away I want everyone to learn from this, if you don’t already know,  bullying among nurses does exist. I would actually be really shocked if you hadn’t experienced it yourself, or know someone who has. If you find yourself a victim of bullying, then please don’t let it keep going, because it will eventually escalate. Like stated before, sometimes the best advice is to just simply walk away. Sometimes that is not an option, maybe you can’t afford to just walk away until another job is lined up. That doesn’t mean you have to be someones punching bag until you find one. Name their behavior, document what is happening, report, and use the chain of command. Even if your leaving, some other poor soul is going to replace you, and be the new punching bags. So hopefully the bullying can be fixed and the cycle stopped for the next nurse. As nurses we have a lot in common just with our profession alone. We should share a common bond, lift each other up, and be our biggest cheerleaders. Lets hope that we are leaning towards that one nurse at a time, that’s all it takes! Take care of yourself and your fellow nurses! Nurse on!

Reference

Thompson, R. (n.d.) Dr. renee thompson’s series on nurse bullying. American Sentinel University. Atlanta, GA. http://ppc.americansentinel.edu/wp-content/uploads/Dr-Renee-Thompson-Series-on-Nurse-Bullying-1-22-2016.pdf

I would rather Work…than nursing!

I would rather work (insert any other job here) than nursing. Or maybe, I should have went to school for this or that? Have you ever had those thoughts? If you have your not alone. I have had many of conversations among nurses. We are sitting around the nurses station dreaming about selling seashells down by the seashore! I know I have, more so recently. One of the funniest conversations I ever had with my oldest son, was when I received a phone call in the car from an application I had put in, at a factory that molded plastic. He could not understand why I would go from nursing to “welding plastic”, ha! The funny thing is, I had several applications out at several different places! And none of them were nursing related, and actually kind of felt good. I was kind of like Tom Cruise in the movie, Jerry Maguire when he sings “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty!

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It was an awesome 5 minutes! Of course the reality hit of the major pay cut I was taking.  Money isn’t everything, but you do still have to pay the bills. So at one point I had worked out a plan, and would work basically three jobs to make up for the income I would lose being a nurse. All this just so I wouldn’t have to work a nursing job. Sounds absolutely flipping ridiculous doesn’t it. I would have never been home, and then completely stressed out just for different reasons. But when you’re upset and not thinking rationally, you start making wonky decisions. Of course my husband helped me to realize I was being a little silly, okay maybe A LOT silly! Also, after reflecting on why I was so upset with nursing in general, I realize I just needed a change. And I’m still in the process of discovering what that change is. Because I still have a passion for taking care of people. I love my clients! One thing I really like to do is teach. It’s something even in my non-nursing jobs that I loved to do. I’m always the one that would take ,or was asked to take, the new employees, and train them. And I really do love education, research, and the university setting. I should be starting my Master’s in Nursing Education (MSN), in September. I have prayed and prayed about what I should do. I know from an LPN, I was interested in nursing education. Now it’s time I make it a reality! What are some of the reasons you got discouraged? A few of mine were:

  • Short staffed
  • Unsupported
  • Large Patient assignments
  • Polices & charting taking away from patient care
  • Never getting breaks

We really need good nurses! And better yet, we need them to stay in this profession. So there are some things that need to be fixed. But in order to start fixing things, you have to acknowledge it’s a problem. And for far to long, it has just been looked at with blinders on. I hope that changes! These are a few of the issues I think that led me to thoughts of leaving the profession completely. Feel free to leave any thoughts in the comment section, that you might have had related to an area other than nursing you thought about working, or things on the job that just make you start questioning your life choices, ha!  God Bless and nurse on!

Funny Nursing Memes

Well after the sad story of part 2 of my nursing career, I figured we could all use a laugh! Really, laughter for me has been a god send! Comedy and humor has got me through some of the darkest times in life. So I bring to you several of these memes that I have found over the years that are nursing related, that make me LOL! Like, for realz laugh out loud! Unfortunately, I did not create any of these! Some very smart people out there in the Internets did, and thank god for them!

  1. We all know that one person that says this…

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2) Am I the only one who thinks like this…

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3) I have worked both shifts ,so I am allowed to think this way, Ha!

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4) This was the look I pretty much had all day every day at the hospital!

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5) That right there is funny, and only a nurse can say LOL! (and for inquiring minds, yes both has happened to me)

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6) I always worry how the stress is going to effect me! Then I worry, that I worry to much lol!

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7) There is truth to this!! Ask anyone who works a full-moon! I keep track of them now that I am on night shift!

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8) Yep, pretty much sums up most shifts

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9) Say what?! Can I get a new patient, trade maybe…do we trade here?

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10) And when we finally get to leave…

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These were all in good humor! Hope you all enjoyed! I love my patients. Really, over the years they honestly are what keeps me coming back! And of course some wonderful co-workers! Until next time! Nurse on!

 

 

 

Part 2 My first job! ( I can change the world)

I hit the ground running with my resume in hand. I had decided in nursing school that I wanted to work in the hospital setting. I want to start out in medical surgical nursing, and really get a good skill set. That was the thinking when I first started nursing school. Now medical surgical nursing is it’s own specialty, which it should be! I became disappointed when I realized most hospitals around my area were not hiring LPN’s. I had to shift my focus if I wanted a job.  So I started looking into long term care nursing. It wasn’t long after I applied that I was getting calls left and right. I was in demand and it felt great! I decided on a long term care establishment and accepted my first nursing job!

The realities of nursing hit like a brick. I was given 3-4 days training, which basically consisted of “here are the keys, if you have any questions come find me”. I was taking care of 20-25 patients, more if I worked the night shift. It was a complete shock. I had treatments and charting, medications, families, and cna’s to manage. It was only for 8 hours, 5 days a week, but everyday was a race just to get care done. I could really only do the bare minim for my clients, because of time. I went from thinking I was going to change the world with care and compassion, to depression and guilt. Every shift I worked I gave it 100%, and I still felt like I came up short. I was finding out that nursing school was in a protective little bubble,and I was just now being let out to see the reality of nursing. It hit hard and I didn’t want to let my family know how I was feeling, because everyone was so happy for me. I prayed and decided to stick it out, and luckily I had a senior nurse who took me under her wing, that would help me when I didn’t know what the crap I was doing! She was also a great listener. Unfortunately, the assistant director of nursing (ADON) at the time decided I was going to be her new “punching bag”, and for a year I experienced workplace intimidation, bullying, whatever you want to call it. It was hell.

This nurse would come in, and in the morning her first stop was to make me feel worthless about the day before. Other nurses witnessed this and would intervene at times, or try and distract her. She would come in and criticize my charting, how long it took me to pass medication, or anything else she could think of. I understand this is part of her job, but it went above and beyond. I sought advice from fellow nurses, on how I could improve. I was told I was doing great that this particular person just likes to pick a punching bag (especially a new nurse), and will move on shortly. Well, shortly turned into months and I had finally had it. I had asked her politely to pull me aside if there were problems (she wouldn’t), to stop cussing at me (she wouldn’t), and I even asked her if she could start off with a hello in the morning before she started into yelling ( of course she didn’t). Her response was always “I am making you into a better nurse”. So I went to her boss the director of nursing (DON). I asked if we could have a meeting and possibly discuss what had been going on. Well needless the say it didn’t go well. The ADON was yelling in the meeting and calling me a liar, and getting real defensive. Finally, the DON just asked me to leave, and she would talk to her. I returned to the floor thinking “we’ll at least she saw some of the behavior I was describing, so surly my days of darkness had to he ending”! Well, not really. The ADON actually left the meeting and come found me on the floor I was working. I was in the middle of medication pass. She stormed down the hall like a bull charging at a matador! She slammed into my med cart pushing it at least 3 feet. I was in shock. I thought this is it she is going to resort to physical violence on now. Of course there was no one around to see this. She just stuck her finger in my face and told me if I thought it was bad before, I had seen nothing yet. I ran and found my nurse friend, I was visibly shaken. She didn’t know what to do. She told me just to keep waiting it out. So my torment continued on and off for weeks, until I got a survey where I could fill out how my supervisors were doing, and it was anonymous! This not only went to the DON, but corporate. The DON had already made very clear to me she wasn’t going to do anything about it, so I unloaded in the survey.

Well, a few days went by and I came back from a break, and saw the ADON sitting at the nursing desk where I usually sit. She looked visibly upset. I went behind the desk to put my things up, and she started to interrogate me. She stated “I know you were the one who ratted me out, admit it”. Needless to say she completely lost it in front of everyone and bought herself a one way ticket out the door. She was let go, basically given the option to resign or be fired. Another words she became another organizations problem. Looking back now, I cant believe a stayed in that situation as long as I did. Hindsight, I wish I would have stood up for myself more, and maybe prevented this person from moving on and bullying other nurses. Rumor has it she did end up getting fired from the other company for the same type of behavior. I did choose to learn from this situation. I developed better coping skills, and learned to be more assertive. I wouldn’t wish this experience on any nurse new or experienced, but I chose to not let it define me, and shape my future negatively.  If anyone else is experiencing this type of workplace bullying, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your supervisors, and follow the chain of command. Let your family and friends know what is happening, and if you need to, talk to a professional. Most work places offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that can help. When something like this happens it can be frightening, and you can feel alone. You are not, please don’t do what I did, and what so long to stand up for yourself, and let others know about the situation. The saying is true you have to take care of yourself, before you can take care of others. It took me years to figure that out!

 

Everyone needs a hobby…even me!

I ran across an old sketch book I had, and started in 2000. I have everything in there from drawings, to poems, and a top 10 bucket list! I can check off 3 of those, so I have 7 more to go, not to shabby! After I read and looked at my drawings, I realized my last entry was from 2009! That means I went approximately 8 years with no further drawings, poems, or any type of expressions. I looked at the blank pages and realized, I need to take some of my own advice on burnout, and take up a hobby! I ended up staying up all night looking on Pinterest and you-tube for craft ideas. I remembered a recent trip to Atlanta where I drove 7 hours to see a Labyrinth exhibit at a Jim Henson Museum. What is Labyrinth your probably wondering? It is a movie, and freaking awesome one. Stick around and trust me, you will see I am obsessed with this movie! I wanted to buy some labyrinth pins online, and they cost anywhere from 10-30 dollars. I thought to myself, I could make that! So I got some supplies and started drawing, and brainstorming. Of course the kids caught wind and started placing their pin orders! It was a good trial and it worked! I really enjoy making pins! Like so much, when I ran out of supplies, my husband said I need to wait to buy more until I have steady checks coming in again. (Burned out remember, I have took some time off). Which I understand but, I decided to sell some things I just had sitting around to get more supplies! I know it might seem minor and when people say “You should get a hobby”, you start thinking of excuses why you don’t have time. But since I started my hobby I can already feel my mood change. I used to take long naps in the day if nothing was planned. Now I am hurrying up to get stuff done so I can make art! So long story short, I took my own advice, and advice I have ignored for 8 plus years, and I am thankful I did. As long as your hobby makes you happy (and is legal, ha!) do it!

Image result for shia labeouf just do it

My husband thought it was silly at first, but was happy I was happy. And after the first few batches, he started putting in orders, Ha! I have some original designs that I plan on posting. Also, some more nursing related pins. Instead of being lost inside my head, or sleeping, I am creating! The sky is the limit! Until next time!

Burnout

I don’t wish Nursing Burnout on anyone. It is a horrible place to be, but there is a lot of things we can learn about nursing burnout. Part of the healing process is recognizing that you are in fact burned out. Which means you have to know what nursing burnout is, what to do if it happens, and most important to those who haven’t experienced it, how to prevent it. These are the things I would like to discuss. It took me a long time to realize I was dealing with the ugly beast of burnout. Work life balance and nursing burnout were really not discussed in nursing school. If they were, it was skimmed over and I don’t remember. I feel as nurses, we tend to always put others needs before our own needs. We are caregivers, and sometimes we do it, and don’t even realize we are until it is to late. Which, is what happened to me.

What is nursing Burnout?

  • Nursing burnout is physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion (Rasmussen, 2017). With the nursing profession we are exposed to heavy levels of stress all the time. If the stress levels continue and are not dealt with in a healthy way, then burnout will result. Burnout can be caused by a lack of support, work schedules, and several other factors. The Primary factor is short staffing (NNU, 2017). A lot of these things we don’t have control of as a nurse. Which, can make it very difficult to prevent burnout. That is why it is so important to take care of ourselves and recognize the signs of burnout which are:
  • Constant fatigue
  • Feeling overworked
  • Feeling under appreciated
  • Loss of enthusiasm with profession
  • Compassion fatigue

These are just a few signs that nurses need to be vigilant about. I feel there is a stigma around this topic. Nurses are afraid to talk to each other about burnout. Maybe related to fear of judgement, personal egos, or losing their job. As nurses we have a stressful job that requires us to be 100% all the time, and if we are less than that it is frighting. It doesn’t have to be the end of our career. Currently, I am suffering from burnout, and hope to find a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, it is hard to find people who understand what you are going through. It is important to reach out to other nurses who might very well be feeling the way you do, and discuss your situation.

I am burned-out now what?

The most important step is to recognize that you are burned out. This took me awhile to wrap my head around. I really didn’t want to admit it had happened to me, and for this reason it prolonged the suffering and healing. Burnout cannot be put off or it will just get worse. When I first realized I was burned out, I just wanted to leave nursing all together. I told my job I had at the time I was burned out, and had to step away. The plan was I was going to work in anything, but nursing for awhile, and take a break. After I told my husband he was obviously upset. Like many nurses, we are the sole bread winners of our household, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. Plus, I really didn’t share with him everything that was going on, and how it was affecting me. I really kept him in the dark regarding my career, and how I was feeling. Then I made a life changing decision, and didn’t talk to him.  Needles to say there was an intervention that day in my living room with my teenage son, husband, and mother-in-law present. I decided maybe it wasn’t the whole nursing profession, but bedside nursing. So one of the first things to consider when burned out is to change specializations. Maybe it is hospital nursing that has you burned out, or the bedside in general. That is the beauty of nursing! There are other areas that we can get into, we just have to be patient and persevere.  Also, you have to find a way to cut down on stress. As mentioned I am a christian, so I decided to devote 10 minutes a day to meditation and prayer. I also decided to eat healthier and to start exercising more. While I was caring for everyone else, I didn’t care for myself and my health had started to suffer. Another way I decided to stay engaged in nursing is to go back to school. I want to get my Masters in education. I feel this will help open more doors for me and enable me to reach other areas of nursing. Also, the feeling of accomplishment can help with burnout.

How to prevent burnout?

There is a saying that says an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! I believe for nursing burnout this is the case. Speaking from someone struggling with burnout, the climb is a lot steeper out, but doable! So how does a nurse prevent her/himself from becoming burned out. Learn how to say no! That means to extra shifts, to family who have great intentions, but may not realize how much you are already overextended! It is also good if you have a nursing buddy that you can bounce ideas and feelings off of. Who better to understand what your going through than another nurse! As nurses we have to learn to put ourselves first. I know way easier said than done. There needs to be some time that is yours and yours only. Even if its just minutes a day, its yours! Above all we as nurses have to manage our stress. Find out ways that help you cope with stress and practice it! If you ignore stress it will not go away, but grow and eventually lead to burnout.

Final thoughts

Nursing is a wonderful, fulfilling profession, that allows us to be in service of others, at some of their hardest times in life. We are able to make a difference in peoples lives and it can feel great! There are always two sides to the coin and with all these amazing things, does come the reality that nursing is a really stressful job! As nurses we have to take care of ourselves, so we can take care of others. I never truly understood that statement until I myself experienced burnout.

 

References

Ericksen, K (2015). Why it happens & What to do about it? Retrieved from: http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/nursing-burnout-why-it-happens-and-what-to-do-about-it/

NNU (2017). Beating the burnout: Nurses struggle with physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion at work. Retrieved from: http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/news/entry/beating-the-burnout-nurses-struggle-with-physical-mental-and-emotional-exha/

USF (2017). Signs your experiencing nurse burnout. Retrieved from: https://www.usfhealthonline.com/resources/career/signs-you-are-experiencing-nurse-burnout/