Burnout is common in the travel healthcare industry, especially with the added strain of a worldwide pandemic the last two years. Being a healthcare professional is one of the most difficult, yet necessary, jobs you can have. Your career is all about putting others ahead of yourself as you care for them. It's virtuous and uplifting, but it can leave you completely drained. While burnout is common in the healthcare industry, the cause of it actually goes beyond just the environment you work in, or even the job itself. As we’ll explore below, burnout is tied to several environmental and personal factors, some of which you can control, and some you can’t. Find out more about burnout and what you can do about it:
While there are many ways to prevent burnout, the first step is knowing what typically takes healthcare workers to the edge of quitting the profession. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there's a wide range of societal, cultural, structural, and organizational factors that contribute to burnout among healthcare professionals. Some primary examples include:
1. Excessive workloads
2. Administrative burdens
3. Working in an active, high-stress environment
4. Lack of organizational support
While these apply to all healthcare workers, travelers can add another lifestyle stressor to this list:
5. Continuously traveling to new environments & locations
While being a healthcare provider can be tough, those who travel need to be extra cautious of burnout.
If you're looking at this list and checking off multiple items that match your own lifestyle, it might be time to take action to prevent burnout. While there’s lots of advice out there, for serious burnout, the only solution we know of is to take a break. And for travel healthcare professionals, that can mean taking extra time off between travel contracts to slow the onset of burnout and prevent mental fatigue.
Saying “No” and asking for what you need isn’t easy for a lot of healthcare providers. There are always patients to care for, always overtime shifts you can take. But when you’re struggling with burnout, remember one key thing: you can't properly care for patients properly if you're physically, mentally, or emotionally exhausted. It's important for you to set boundaries that work for you, whether to cope with burnout or to be vigilant in preventing it. There can be a lot of pressure to pick up an extra shift, extend your contract, or immediately start a new assignment, but putting yourself first is crucial. Don't forget that "No." is a full sentence.
Travel healthcare is a great career for those who work in high stress environments, because you can take several weeks off between contracts to recoup and refresh. The important thing is, if you need time off, whether for travel, family, or to spend time with a therapist, ask for it. Take charge and empower your need for a healthy mental outlook, both professionally and personally.
Probably every article you’ve read about treating burnout gives you the advice to reconnect with yourself and spend time doing hobbies that you enjoy. And while we don’t disagree that these are good ways to treat burnout, they’re not the best ways to recover. When you’re burnt out, you need to let your brain heal in the same way you would heal a sprained ankle: rest. As odd as it may feel at first, behavioral scientists say that stopping and doing nothing for a while will give your brain the rest it’s so desperately craving. Take time off between contracts and enjoy a staycation where you don’t have to be up at a certain time, have nothing on your to-do list, and live as if you don’t have to work for a living.
If a staycation isn’t your scene, getaway! Detaching from responsibilities and technology will give your brain the time to recover from the burnout you’ve been experiencing