The term “burnout” is widely used in the sense that something becomes too overwhelming. It is a state of exhaustion to all facets of your daily life - emotional, physical, and mental. Stressful situations that continue to build up within usually result in some type of burnout or exhaustion.
Veterinary nurses sometimes are required to work long hours, up to fourteen or fifteen at one time. Overtime is usually offered in animal hospitals, and most vet nurses who are struggling would jump at the opportunity for more pay. Research shows over 25% of workers deal with high levels of stress and burnout as a result of their jobs, which leads to total burnout.
Unfortunately, veterinary nurses have succumbed to prolonged burnout problems that include stroke, depression, and multiple other health complications. As a result, many within the profession end up leaving their job, which they love.
There are some measures that vet nurses need to and should take to help reduce, manage, and ultimately prevent burnout from occurring. Part of the process involves knowing when you are experiencing burnout and how to take a break effectively.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of vet nurse burnout
Having the ability to identify the triggers that cause you to feel burnout is vital to helping you overcome it. For example, if you are starting to feel overwhelmed or emotionally drained, where you find yourself unable to meet the demands of your job, you need to start asking yourself some questions:
- Am I struggling to manage my workload?
- Do I feel tired or drained constantly?
- Am I having a difficult time balancing work and personal matters?
- Am I having issues with coworkers, clients, or management?
Any of these reasons are contributing factors to burnout, as well as the following symptoms that you will want to note if you are displaying them:
- loss of appetite;
- anxiety and stress over small things;
- lack of energy to be pe productive.
One of the most challenging aspects that vet nurses have to deal with regularly is the euthanization of sick animals. This action day after day can take an emotional toll and create feelings of anxiety over each animal patient that is being seen. However, suppose you can adequately take a moment to reflect and find what parts of the job are causing this burnout. In that case, you can make work more manageable by taking action to reduce or eliminate those areas of difficulty.
Take a break
One of the best options you should employ when starting to feel burnout is taking a break. Veterinary practices become chaotic at times, and many hospitals offer service on a 24/7 basis, but that does not mean that you need to be working all of those hours as a vet nurse.
For example, anyone in animal hospital jobs at Bond Vet raves about how the company takes pride in their top of the line business practices, providing employees with a collaborative environment and positive work culture. They do not require many overtime hours because they do not like to contribute to a poor work-life balance.
If you need to reduce your hours or not take any overtime that is offered, you should. BondVet staff state that the management at their hospital stresses for their employees to take breaks frequently. Their vet nurses are offered an open-door policy to ensure their team is taken care of and avoid experiencing burnout.
Eating, sleeping, and exercise
Self-care is essential to your well-being to adequately provide for the excellent care of the animals you serve. In addition, taking care of your body and mind helps you stay healthy and active for the time you are working.
Vet nurses should strive to get at least seven solid hours of sleep each night and take note that your busy work schedule does not get in the way of your eating routine. Make sure you eat healthy meals, take walks on your breaks if you are able, or keep an exercise regime. Prioritize your focus on making sure that you are taking care of your health.
Communicate with your bosses
Vet nurses suffering from burnout will often suffer in silence - as in, they do not take the time to communicate with their practice manager or vet lead about the issues they are having. However, you should never be afraid to be honest about suffering from burnout, whether you feel you have too many responsibilities or are having trouble with your current work schedule.
A good manager and boss will understand and recognize your situation and offer some resolutions to help you. If you are struggling with how to approach your boss, there are some suggestions with how you can start the discussion:
- outline how many hours you are working late, be it by the last month or couple of months, and explain how all of those hours are wearing you out;
- if you are having trouble adjusting to the schedule you are on, explain why it is causing you stress or anxiety or not allowing you to provide your best practices;
- ask your boss for help in managing overtime or too many demands of the job that contribute to your burnout.
If you have a boss that is not helpful, does not understand, or demands that you continue your unhealthy practices, it may be time to search for a career as a vet nurse elsewhere.
Manage your stress levels
Vet nurses sometimes just need some advice on coping with anxiety or stress to help prevent burnout. There are various methods for dealing with the stress you are experiencing, some of which have already been listed above (take a break, eat better, get more sleep, ramp up your exercise).
Some other ways that you can cope might be:
- talking/finding support: you can discuss your issues with friends, family, or even a health professional to develop solutions to help you with burnout;
- relaxation/meditation: you can practice meditating, get a massage, take a calming bath, listening to soft music, any number of activities that can help you feel less stressed and more in control of your situation;
- find a solution: if you are a person who likes to write things down or work things out, you can identify your problem and actively come up with an action plan to help resolve it.
Take care of yourself first
Some of the problems you experience may have to do with your own mindset, in which case you should internalize and assess what factors are causing your negativity. If you can turn otherwise stressful situations into celebrations of positive outcomes, you can focus on that encouraging atmosphere and change your mindset into more positive thinking. Having a happy outlook on life does allow you to achieve more success and satisfaction.
Again, taking care of yourself needs to be the number one priority to effectively avoid the overwhelm and burnout that veterinary work can have on you. Make sure that you can note any signs or symptoms of burnout so that you can address them immediately and prevent yourself from jeopardizing your health.