Avoiding Burnout: The Travel Nurse Edition

Are you leaving work after every shift feeling exhausted, disheartenedor discouraged – just to rush back and clock in a few hours later? It’s no secret that being a nurse is a tough job. Your career is all about putting others ahead of yourself. It's virtuous, it's uplifting, and 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 itselfAs we’ll explore below, burnout is tied to several environmental and personal factors, some of which you can control, and some you can’t. Before you decide to leave nursing forever, find out more about burnout and what you can do about it: 

Understanding what leads to burnout 

While there are many ways to prevent burnout, the first step is knowing what typically takes nurses to the edge of quitting the professionAccording to Rasmussen College, there are four primary reasons that nurses burn out. These include:

1. Working long shifts 
2. The tendency to place others' needs first 
3. Working in an active, high-stress environment 
4. Continuously coping with sickness and death 
 

While these apply to all nurses, travel nursing can add another lifestyle stressor to this list:  

5. Continuously traveling to new environments & locations 

While being a nurse can be tough, travel nurses need to be extra cautious of burnout.

If you're looking at this list and checking off multiple items that match your own lifestyleit 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 nurses, that can mean taking extra time off between travel contracts to slow the onset of burnout and prevent mental fatigue.

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Tell your recruiter you need a break between contracts  

Saying “No” and asking for what you need isn’t easy for nurses. There are always patients to care for, always overtime shifts you can take. But when you’re struggling with burnout, remember one key thing: burnout in nurses can lead to an increase in medical mistakes due to forgetfulness or impaired focus while at work.  
 
Travel nursing is the best career for nurses 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 offwhether 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. 

Next up on the to do list: nothing 

Probably every article you’ve read about treating nurse 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 anklerestAs 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 

Our Travelers’ Favorite Spots to Rest & Recover 

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 

Short Hikes with Incredible Views 

  • Canyon Overlook TrailZion National Park: a short-and-sweet hike that ends with a breathtaking view of the main canyon. A must-do on your first trip to Zion!  
  • Arches National Park: The red-rock wonderland offers options for every skill level, from driving through the park to short hikes with breathtaking views.  
  • Miller Point Caves Loop, Cathedral Gorge State Park: A short and easy hike through canyons and caves that make you feel like you’re in the middle of a desert painting. Don’t skip the slot canyons, underground passages, and abandoned water tower.  
  • Wizard Island Summit Trail, Crater Lake National Park: Short, steep, and rocky hike paved with lava rocks and gravel, take a boat ride to the trailhead and enjoy a view of Crater Lake at the top.  

Cheap Beach Stays 

  • Virginia Beach, VirginiaPlenty of pet-friendly beaches, local brewery tours, a fun trip for the whole family! 
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: 60-miles of beaches, from campgrounds to condos, fun for kids and a popular nightlife scene. 
  • Pahoa, Hawaii: Scuba diving, snorkeling, tide pools, a lush rainforest, a cheaper alternative to popular pricey Hawaiian beaches.  
  • Pensacola Beach, Florida: Avoid theme park crowds with Florida’s westernmost coast, Pensacola Beach. Delicious food, colonial downtown district, fishing, boating, and plenty of relaxing.  

Bike paths for the adventurous 

  • Flume Trail, Lake Tahoe, NV: 1,600 feet above the bright blue Lake Tahoe, 4.5 miles of singletrack, packed with breathtaking views.  
  • Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville, SC: Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, nearly 20 miles long running against the Reedy River on an old railroad bed. Perfect for cyclists of all ages.  
  • McKenzie River Trail, Bend, OR: Spend a day on the 25.4 miles of trail in the deep forest, traversing log bridges along the McKenzie River. Choose your own adventure and stay refreshed with mist coming off the Sahalie Falls. 
  • Shark Valley Trail, Miami, FL: See the Everglades National Park on two wheels! The 15-mile loop where you’re sure to see gators, turtles, wading birds, and so much more wildlife.