Nursing Burnout: Is Travel Nursing the Solution?
A cycle of excessive overtime and unsustainable workloads, with widespread verbal and physical violence, have led to a decline in nurses’ health, including nurses’ mental health. With a growing nurse shortage evident in many parts of the country,
Sep 22, 2022
"A cycle of excessive overtime and unsustainable workloads, with widespread verbal and physical violence, have led to a decline in nurses’ health, including nurses’ mental health. With a growing nurse shortage evident in many parts of the country, and further nurse shortages on the horizon, this situation is likely to worsen." Linda Silas: President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU)
Canadian Nurses and Mental HealthCanadian nurses suffer from high rates of PTSD, anxiety, depression and burnout. This is a long-standing phenomenon that was identified before the COVID pandemic and is by no means unique to Canada. Nursing is a high-stress job that delivers emotional and physical fatigue with serious mental health consequences for RNs and LPNs across North America. From carrying a double workload to operating on irregular hours to working 12hr shifts with no breaks, nurses are carrying heavy burdens within demanding environments, and it’s taking its toll.
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions reports that as many as 94% of nurses are experiencing symptoms of burnout, with 45% of their recent survey respondents experiencing severe burnout – a 50% increase since 2019. Today, Canada’s opioid crisis, staffing shortages, and relentless COVID stress have culminated into a perfect storm for modern healthcare facilities and their staff. Stagnant pay rates have only made the situation worse. The consequences of our collective inaction are dire – nurses are leaving the industry, hurting the ones who stay the most.
Here are some of the most common causes of nurse burnout:
Long hours or overnight shifts.
High-stress working environment
Overwhelming amount of responsibilities.
Anxiety over patients’ experience.
Bullying or harassment from patients or doctors.
Lack of benefits.
Lack of work/life balance.
Dissatisfaction with the job overall.
And here are some of the most common signs of nurse burnout:
Constant anxiety related to work
Finding no enjoyment in the job, not wanting to work
Loss of appetite
Physical and emotional exhaustion
The Exodus of Canadian Nurses
CBC reports that in Ontario today, hospitals currently face a 10 to 12 percent vacancy rate for nursing positions. The nurses that have previously identified being overworked are finding themselves in more dire need of support every day.
Although there are many new nurses entering the healthcare system each year, the fastest way to meet Canada’s nursing needs would be to increase staff retention so that new nurses entering the field serve as additional staff rather than replacement staff. However, with stress levels so high, it is unlikely that the rate of nurses exiting the field will slow down anytime soon. Alarmingly, CTV reports that the worst nurse job vacancy rates may be still to come in Canada.
We need to do more for Canadian Nurses
"After months without a break, Anne Boutillier, an emergency room nurse in Dartmouth, N.S., took a much-needed vacation earlier this summer. But she received a call nearly every day to come back to help out. Soon after returning, she worked an 19-hour shift. Boutillier had been on the schedule for 13 hours, but given the lack of staff, stayed on for another six. “I feel guilty when I can’t do it — because I know my team and I know the burden the patients are suffering,” she said. CBC News - August 2022
Our nurses have been calling for better working conditions and we need to do more to reach that objective. “Better compensation, greater professional autonomy, stronger management and training programs, and more flexibility in location and scheduling” can top the list of where to start (Huffington Post). Nurses whose positions meet these criteria experience greater job satisfaction and are more able to cope with the demands of their work.
The Travel Nurse Opportunity
Travel nursing offers an incredible opportunity for nurses to take more control of their career, and their mental health today. It offers a strong win-win solution for understaffed facilities to gain the nurse-power they need to run efficiently while satisfying health care professionals who have enough control over their career and their life to avoid total burnout.
Career advantages of travel nursing
Work in the location you want to.
Make higher-than-average wages.
Have the flexibility to take a couple of weeks or months off per year, when you want to.
Learn new skills and develop as a professional.
Build new relationships with your co-workers.
Be focused & able to deal with the challenges at every shift.
Enjoy your life to the fullest.
If you’re feeling burnt out in your current nursing position, we want to hear from you.
strives to help fill the need for nurses within Canada. Our team is highly aware of the fight that nurses have to put up on a daily basis to make it through a challenging shift. We want to offer you a chance to restore balance to your life without making a financial sacrifice.
Apply to be a travel nurse and one of our Career Consultants will contact you to go through our available positions – with no commitment required.
To all the nurses out there, stay strong & always, always take care of #1. (That’s you!)