Role Strain and Burnout in Nursing

The Issues Nurses Face

Nursing personnel who work in challenging spheres such as Accident and Emergency or acute medicine are inclined to spend a significant amount of time during their shifts interacting with patients. The essence of the emergency department is frequently physically challenging, and nurses are constantly under pressure to show concern, empathy, and tolerance. The sector in which nurses currently work has a culture that has made it difficult for professionals to satisfy their requirements. As a result, it is understandable that people who are constantly working with others under such conditions discover that the psychological strain is tremendously demanding and might lead to burnout. The consequences of role strain and burnout lead to not only personal issues but legal and ethical issues.

Consequences of Role Stress and Strain

Burnout stems from constant strain, and the consequences depend on the stage of the condition and the symptoms experienced by the individual. It is important to note that burnout symptoms can vary from mild malfunction to exhaustion. Nurses experience such burnout symptoms as low self-esteem, lack of faith, lack of job satisfaction, difficulty slowing down and enjoying life, and failure to maintain life in balance and make knowledgeable decisions (Friganović et al., 2017). Exhaustion is a sickness of overeagerness in which there is a continual drive to accomplish only the ideal outcome. The consequent nursing care might be defined as aloof, indifferent, and even degrading in terms of behavior.

A lack of support can also play a significant role in nurses suffering burnout, leading to higher absenteeism and lower motivation. As a result, insufficient support and assistance expose personnel issues as a source of stress (Friganović et al., 2017). Burnout and strain have interpersonal and social consequences since their symptoms are contagious and can influence coworkers. As people grow more irritated and short-tempered, their relationships may deteriorate. Furthermore, nurses who experience burnout or role strain may develop undesirable habits such as increased alcohol use or smoking.

Consequently, caregivers are hardly only innocent victims of unfavorable causes outside their control; they are also unintentional contributors to negative impacts due to their own views. The results of their behaviors caused by strain and burnout can lead to ethical and legal issues. Nurse emotional exhaustion frequently results in financial implications for the healthcare facility, the most noticeable of which are absent from work and decreased job competence (Friganović et al., 2017). Additionally, since the nursing staff is mainly focused on caregiving, there might be problems concerning proper attentiveness and thoroughness, the absence of which can debilitate the condition of the patient or lead to unfortunate outcomes.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance for the nurses to find support and assistance from either team, other professionals, or a circle of trusted people. Nursing staff must create a balance between work and life. Otherwise, an individual working in the nursing sphere will be subject to strain that can result in burnout. It is essential for nursing personnel to understand the consequences of their poor mental health that can result in accidents concerning the health and lives of patients.

Issues leading to Nurse Burnout

Information from 24 papers studied by Dall’Ora et al. indicates that various burnout factors are connected with psychological job pressures and factors fundamental to the job. One of the significant issues leading to nursing burnout is psychological expectations. The greater the psychological expectations, the more likely it is to experience all burnout symptoms, and high psychological expectations were related to a higher risk of emotional exhaustion.

As for the barriers, emotional demands have an impact on burnout. The nursing staff was more prone to undergo emotional exhaustion and pessimism when providing care for patients who were experiencing pain and patients with various needs (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Caring for a terminally ill person and making an extensive series of decisions to abandon life-sustaining therapies were also linked to a higher risk of burnout (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Pressure from care delivery was linked to a higher overall burnout level. Therefore, in order to bypass burnout caused by high psychological demands, it is crucial “to create space, slow down, and take time to think” (Waddill-Goad, 2019). Moreover, there is a need to separate oneself from the situation and act rationally, accentuating the fact that these are responsibilities.

Another big issue that often leads to burnout is role strain. A scenario in which conflicting, competitive, or inappropriate demands are imposed on an individual by two or more positions held concurrently is referred to as role stress (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Since role strain is frequently connected with burnout and dissociation, it anticipates emotional exhaustion. The consequence of emotional dissonance is commonly stated as a conflict between the emotions that are felt and the emotions that organizations expect to be expressed (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Emotional dissonance mediates the relationship between job elements, such as workload, patient factors, team difficulties, and emotional exhaustion and pessimism. Therefore, in order to bypass burnout caused by role strain, it is vital to create a strong network of supporters who can guide this individual and help with necessary tasks.

Experience of Strain and Burnout in the Nursing Profession

From my experience, I can say that I have experienced strain that led to burnout in my nursing profession. I have experienced the impact of high expectations imposed on every nurse in the field. I was required to deliver high-quality care to my patients while maintaining a calm attitude. As a result, the situation turned out to be highly overwhelming since there was a feeling as if there was no chance for a mistake. In order to bypass the symptoms of burnout, I concentrated on my results and my influence on the lives and well-being of my patients. I have realized that being able to save lives and impact the views of patients is rewarding. The best strategies that helped me in my path of healing were a strong support network, involving my family and mentors, and resilience.

Hence, role strain and subsequent burnout can be immensely detrimental to individuals in the nursing profession. The consequences of the burnout and role strain on the nurses may vary, starting with a lack of job satisfaction and ending with acquiring habits involving smoking or massive alcohol intake. The result of this behavior can lead to ethical and legal problems concerning the health of the patients since the nursing personnel can lack attentiveness and thoroughness in such conditions. Two significant issues leading to burnout of nurses are high psychological demands and role stress. As a result, every nurse must pay close attention to their support network and work/life balance.


Dall’Ora, C., Ball, J., Reinius, M., & Griffiths, P. (2020). Burnout in nursing: A theoretical review. Human Resources for Health, 18(41), 1-17.

Friganović, A., Kovačević, I., Ilić, B., Žulec, M., Krikšić, V., & Bile, C. G. (2017). How to prevent burnout syndrome in nurses. Acta Clin Croat, 56(2), 292-298.

Waddill-Goad, S. M. (2019). Stress, fatigue, and burnout in nursing. Journal of Radiology Nursing, 38(1), 44-46.

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