It’s no secret that burnout is a huge problem plaguing the nursing community. According to a 2019 study, 41% of nurses reported feelings of burnout, and that was before a global pandemic! According to the World Health Organization, burnout is characterized as feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced personal efficacy.
Having been an ER and ICU nurse for the past 6 years, I am no stranger to the symptoms of nurse burnout. Prior to travel nursing, I felt cynical of the impact I was making, exhausted to the point that I couldn’t enjoy activities outside of work, and not engaged when I was at work. A year and a half ago, I took the leap to travel nursing. Now I take extended breaks to travel in between contracts leaving me feeling refreshed and engaged each time I return to the bedside. With this experience, I am sharing all the reasons I have found that travel nursing has helped heal and prevent burnout.
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Detachment from Hospital Politics and Drama
Being entrenched in hospital politics can lead to cynicism surrounding your work. As a travel nurse, you can be at a given hospital from 4-13 weeks. Constantly changing facilities can leave you more naive to some of the problems surrounding that hospital system. By the time your eyes are open, you are on to another facility. This makes it easier to focus on your work and your relationships with your patients which can make your career feel more fulfilling.
Remember when you were a baby nurse and everything was new and exciting and you were learning every day? As time goes on, that excitement and commitment to growth can wane. As a travel nurse, each new contract is an opportunity for learning. Sometimes as a staff nurse, it can be easy to get in a rut and not feel challenged. Travel nursing can be a great way to break through that rut. You’re exposed to new approaches to problems and can grow yourself in your career with each new assignment.
Though the majority of nurses go into their career with the goal of making a difference over receiving a high salary, better compensation does help. Being appreciated monetarily for the work you do can make the frustrations feel more worth it. Additionally through having better compensation, you can feel more secure financially, relieving stresses outside of work.
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Healthier Relationship with Work
Travel nursing can be a great way to improve your work life balance and your relationship with your work. As a travel nurse, there is no pressure to join committees, there is no mandatory overtime, and you feel generally less attached to the hospital. Changing this attachment can help you separate your identity and your career. Altering this dynamic can be a game changer. Human first, nurse second!
More Flexibility for Time Off
As a travel nurse, you decide when and where you take a contract. Personally, I like to work six months on, six months off. This allows me to pursue my passion of travelling with my partner in our campervan during my time off. Learn more about Vanlife and Travel Nursing here. This time off is imperative to my healing and feeling refreshed when I take my next contract. At first I was nervous about what managers would think of taking extended time away from the hospital. Those fears were unfounded however, as I’ve found my approach to self care has been incredibly well received in interviews. Managers are losing staff exponentially and seeing reduced engagement from the staff that do stay due to burnout. By explaining your approach to self care, many managers are open to travellers who have taken time away from the bedside to refresh.
Sometimes when you are so deep in nurse burnout, self care can feel impossible. Travel nursing has allowed me to take the time off work that I need to heal. By separating myself from the hospital, I have been able to have the time and space to process. For me, this looks like dedicated time for journaling, meditating, exercise, and pursuing my passions. Even if you don’t pursue travel nursing, if you are feeling like self care is impossible, I encourage you to take time for yourself and take time away from the bedside or consider a different path in nursing. No career is worth your mental health.
If you’re struggling from nurse burnout, I urge you to consider looking into travel nursing. Travel nursing can help you create a better work life balance, allow you to pursue your passions away from the bedside, improve your mental health, and receive better compensation for your work. If you don’t know where to start, feel free to reach out, I’m happy to be a mentor through the process!