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Can you offer suggestions on how an ED nurse can deal with feelings of work-related frustration and burnout?


Dear Donna,

I have found that at times I am losing patience and compassion at my job. I work in a busy ER and feel overwhelmed more often than not. I love what I do in emergency medicine and have been in the field for over 20 years. Can you offer suggestions on how to deal with these feelings of frustration and burnout?

Thank you,

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Burned Out,

There are many possible reasons for your feelings and many possible solutions. I will explore a few of them here. Start by reading “How Nancy Nurse got her groove back” (

One of the primary reasons for burnout of any type is when we expend more energy — physically, emotionally, and spiritually — then we replenish. Most of us are not great at self-care or at pursuing other activities in our lives to counterbalance the intense, stressful and emotionally charged work we do. Read “First things first” for more on this topic (

You don’t mention how long you have worked in your current position but sometimes, after a period of time in the same position or even in the same clinical specialty, a change is needed. There’s no harm in exploring your options. You might look for other types of positions to utilize your ER background, such as occupational health, or consider completely changing gears. Read “Knowing when it’s time to move on” ( and “How to change specialties” (

In some instances, we grow stagnant when we are doing very little, if anything, for our own professional development. Steps to take might include furthering your formal education, working toward clinical certification, getting active in a nursing/healthcare professional association, volunteering to be a preceptor (or other project) at work and doing more speaking or writing. Read “Career management is a state of mind” ( for more ideas.

Burn out is not a permanent state but it does require your immediate attention. I always say that discontent is a reminder postcard from the universe that’s it’s time to make a change. The change can be in a practice setting, position, professional development, self-care or all of the above. Read the above-referenced articles and start the process of getting your groove back.

Best wishes,


By | 2015-01-07T00:00:00-05:00 January 7th, 2015|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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