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Burnout Is Everywhere


The students in my current clinical rotation look like the walking dead: dark circles under their eyes, heads hung down, and a constant supply of caffeine with them at all times. At this point, they are trying to survive.

The time right before the holidays is tough when you’re in nursing school. They are SO ready for a break and are trying to push through until the end of the year. And it feels like a push, too. It’s just like rolling that proverbial boulder up that hill.

Not only are they wading their way through med/surg and pharmacology, they are learning about physical assessment, care plans, and case studies from me. I think some of the students have the idea that all they’ll do in a clinical is take care of patients; they aren’t expected to write any papers, document their findings, and turn all of that in to me, right?

Wrong, unfortunately.

Clinicals are about caring for patients, but there’s more to it. A student has to transfer the theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom into the clinical setting and use it in real-time. They need to think critically and set priorities of care. They have to accept constructive feedback about their performance and claim responsibility for their mistakes. This requires a good deal of humility and self-awareness.

No wonder they’re burned out. They aren’t just learning about nursing, they’re learning about themselves. Sometimes we don’t like what we see, or realize we may not have the goods. Often, we don’t know what we’re lacking until we’re put to the test.

Only time will tell if they survive the fire and live to tell the tale.

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