The Role of COVID-19 on Nurse Burnout
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic in January 2020. Because COVID-19 is airborne and spread through close contact, the WHO introduced preventive measures like physical distancing. Following the preventive measures, most people had to work and study from home. However, most people in the healthcare facilities had to continue working and exposing themselves to the virus, to keep the world functioning. The frontline workers were directly exposed to the virus as they worked closely with COVID-19 patients. In effect, most nurses contracted the virus while others suffered psychologically. Working at the frontline during the pandemic and taking the risk to treat the patients has greatly implicated the nurse’s ability and willingness to work, causing burnout.
Nurse burnout involves psychological and physical fatigue from stressful responsibilities; for example, taking care of patients with critical conditions. According to Clarke (2022), exposure to the patients’ suffering, deaths, and grieving families can mentally affect even the most stable nurses. An increase in job tasks and changes in the working environment also directly affect the nurses’ morale and cause frustration, which may result in burnout syndrome (Toscano et al. 2022). The nurses isolated themselves from families and friends as they were afraid of spreading the virus. They also feared using low-quality protective equipment, and continuously wearing them slowed their movement and operation. The psychological pressure on the nurses lowered their performance and commitment, whereby some quit their professions to avoid suffering mentally. Consequently, the emergence of coronavirus and the risks taken to care for the patients caused negative emotions in the nurses and affected their well-being, further leading to burnout syndrome.
Nursing burnout during COVID
Burnout in nurses affects the quality of their performance while taking care of coronavirus patients. However, numerous ways can help prevent burnout syndrome. Leo et al. (2021:4) suggest that measures like physical activity, eating a balanced diet, enough rest, meaningful relationships, and group discussions may prevent or reduce burnout among nurses. Exercising and resting enough improve mental health by reducing frustration and physical and emotional exhaustion. Garcia and Calvo (2020) state that a lack of social support increases nurse burnout. During the pandemic, most nurses felt that people on the outside life did not understand what they were going through, making them feel isolated. Nonetheless, communicating with other nurses and professionals helped relieve their worries. While burnout is the leading determinant of health for nurses, preventive measures like exercising, healthy eating, enough sleep, and communication have increased nurses’ willingness and quality of performance.
The emergence of COVID-19 negatively impacted the willingness and quality of nurses’ performance. Being exposed to the patient’s suffering, deaths, and grieving of relatives affected their mental wellness, whereas most nurses suffered from burnout syndrome. However, measures to reduce burnout have improved the nurses’ ability to continue taking care of the coronavirus patients; nurses are encouraged to exercise, have enough rest, eat well and talk about their frustrations. Moreover, the government should create more educational programs to provide care to patients while maintaining wellness. The government should also increase the workforce in the health centres to prevent fatigue and lack of enough sleep, improving the willingness to take care of the patients.
Clarke, E. (2022, September 1). What Is Nurse Burnout? Nurse Journal, https://nursejournal.org/resources/nurseburnout/#:~:text=Nurse%20burnout%20involves%20the%20emotional,difficulties%20in%20providing%20empathetic%20care.
García, M. & Calvo, A. (2020). The threat of COVID‐19 and its influence on nursing staff burnout. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 77(2), 832–844. https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.14642
Leo, C. G., Sabina, S., Tumolo, M. R., Bodini, A., Ponzini, G., Sabato, E., & Mincarone, P. (2021). Burnout among healthcare workers in the covid 19 era: A review of the existing literature. Frontiers in Public Health, 9, pp 1-6.https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2021.750529
Toscano, F., Tommasi, F., and Giusino, D. (2022). Burnout in intensive care nurses during the covid-19 pandemic: a scoping review on its prevalence and risk and protective factors. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19, 12914, pp 1-16. file:///C:/Users/HP/Downloads/ijerph-19-12914-v2.pdf