Avoiding Burnout as a Travel Nurse

An article by Leah Sterneker, LPN Traveler

Oh the dreaded burnout.

As a nurse, we will all experience this misery. It just hits you without warning. There are easy ways to avoid it when you are a staff nurse. Taking days off for a friend get together, a mini getaway, plans with family, etc. But what happens when you are a travel nurse and away from all your friends and family and normal routine? How do you avoid the dreaded B word? Luckily, as someone who experiences burnout more than I like to admit, let me give you some advice.

Say YES with discernment

As a traveler, we have a great job with amazing opportunities, including the ability to tremendously impact a short-staffed facility. However, maintaining a realistic and healthy balance between your contracted hours and saying “yes” to being on call is essential. So answer your phone carefully! You need to go and see what the new city you are in has to offer! For me, travel nursing is about the experience, meeting new people, trying new things, seeing the must go to spots in that area. If you always say yes to covering shifts, it will be expected of you. You are no good to the facility if you are so tired you are making mistakes.

Seek housing away from the facility

My first travel nurse job was in a small Minnesota town where housing options were very limited. I decided to live at the facility. You can’t use the excuse “Well I went into the city today” when they can look outside and see your car. Or even worse, come up to your living area. You almost feel guilty sitting upstairs in your sweats, drinking coffee, binge watching Bravo TV when you know they are short staffed and struggling downstairs. But believe me, you need that lazy day away from the facility.

Take care of yourself

Treat yourself to a little TLC regularly! Depending on your financial situation it can be anything from getting a massage once a month, getting your nails done, doing some shopping, staying the night in a hotel for a different environment, etc. We need those days to pamper ourselves. Whatever it is that gets you refocused and refreshed, do it!

Exercise, if you are into that sort of thing

This one is obvious, exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Whether it be from running to lifting weights to kickboxing, whatever it is that relaxes you, I fully support. I, however, am more of a facetime with the girls while drinking an adult beverage kind of gal. However, if a yoga class with baby goats or puppies comes my way, you better believe I will be first in line. Which leads me to my last bit of advice:

Engage via technology with everyone you love back home

I facetime with my mom every day. Even if there is nothing new to say, sometimes you just want to see your parents face when you are having a bad day. Being a travel nurse has made me really step up to check in with my friends. My two best girlfriends and I always try to have a skype and drink night at least weekly. We all connect and talk about what’s going on in our lives over drinks. Just like if we were together in a bar. It seems silly to most people, but it’s a way to see us all laughing and reacting to what the other is saying. It gives you something to look forward to and makes you forget about the stresses of work. You leave the conversation happy and with a new attitude for the next few days of work.

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