The old way of dealing with nurse burnout

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Today we’re talking nurse burnout:


COVID Nurse Burnout


Etti Rosenberg is a nurse and head of the policy and planning department at Clalit Health, the largest health organization in Israel.

They currently employ 13,000 nurses in 14 hospitals and 2500 community clinics.

Here are Etti’s words related to nurse burnout, as the vaccine effect is spreading in Isreal: meaning nurses and health care workers can finally start seeking closure.

But hang on.

We’re not talking about putting up your feet after a long nursing shift and waking up relaxed the next day.

“To be a nurse, you really have to care about people.” Whitney Neville said.

“But when an ICU is packed with COVID-19 patients, most of whom are likely to die, to protect yourself, you just shut down. You get to the point when you realize that you’ve become a machine. There’s only so many bags you can zip.”

We’re talking about nurses spending a full year with heightened stress levels, anxiety and real risk of nurse burnout. 

Post-traumatic stress, anyone?



Nurse burnout due to COVID is real


How has your workload been the last year?

How many hours and extra shifts have you pulled?

Emotional exhaustion is spreading, a common burnout symptom.

93% of healthcare workers in the US are experiencing stress according to research.

A whopping 76% report exhaustion and burnout, as nurse-to-patient ratios tripled with staff shortage.

Many report a lack of support and recognition from their organization and managers.

Many nurses are battling their third wave of Covid-19.

Other health care workers are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel:


Burnout in nurses due to Covid


What prevents nurse burnout?

How can we avoid nurse burnout?

And make sure the emotional support is there from the organizations?

What helps us nurses deal with death, illness and suffering on a daily basis?

Probably a set of things that are right for workers in therapeutic professions who finds relief both at home and at work.

But when the Covid-19 epidemic started the way the nurses operated changed. And the regular methods no longer worked.

When the pandemic began, it was no longer about the patient and his or her family struggles.

In every household, there was fear, anxiety, uncertainty and concerns over older parents, so the methods for daily relief at work broke.

There was no entertainment and no private time to relax, reflect or vent.

At work during the epidemic patients were unexpectedly getting worse.

And the number of deceased who died in loneliness with no family around adds to the emotional burden.

What was left were ceremonies and togetherness.

Nurses tend to hug a lot, encourage each other, celebrate and mark events and holidays together. And we kept doing this even when we were afraid of passing the virus.

“We were doing everything we could, but the patients were not getting better,” says Karia Jackson, a 39-year-old nurse interviewed by

“I would sit in my car in the driveway and I would just cry for maybe an hour. Nobody is really going to understand until they saw what you saw.”



How did nurses cope with COVID-19?


One way to avoid burnout was through writing Covid diaries on social media.

Another creative way to avoid nurse burnout is to use animals for therapy purposes:    



Nurses lean on each other


“The most notable impact is the mental health surge that we are seeing as a result of the steady stream of caring for very sick patients, experiencing higher than “typical” death rates, and having to work in conditions/situations that have not always provided consistent PPE, staffing or resources”, says doctor Bonnie Clipper.

This year brought a different understanding of life and our ability to control our plans.

Are we going to act differently when it’s over?

Nurse leaders lead by example.

It doesn’t matter how many years of experience they have, we work together and mentor each other.

Passion, persistence, and discipline were always the characteristics of nursing.

Don’t be afraid to sit at the table where decisions are being made.

With 70% of the health workforce being women (80% of which are nurses and midwives), only 25% are in leadership roles. Nurses and midwives need more than just recognition, but action.

We nurses, we lean on each other.

We talk a lot and listen to one another.

And even in the midst of the pandemic, we knew how to do this.

We are all still currently digesting the year of the Corona pandemic and the many consequences it brought.

Yet, we cling to the regular practices of nurses; To touch, hug, friendly conversations and listening are the ones that quadruple the nursing staff’s ability to recharge.

Even a pandemic will not change this.


Etti Rosenberg


Etti Rosenberg is a nurse and head of the policy and planning department at Clalit Health, the largest health organization in Israel.



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