Seven Tips for Getting Unstuck in Healthcare

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As a hard working nurse, you need to protect yourself from becoming overwhelmed and burnt out by the losses, hurts and fears of your patients or the job. Fortunately, there are ways you can keep going when the going gets tough.


Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, respected psychotherapist, professional educator, and author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life, advises nurses who “hit a wall” of frustration and anxiety to follow her 7 tips for getting unstuck at work.


  1. Deal with your emotions. To deal with sadness, anger and fear, take some private time to express those emotions physically and constructively. By crying to express sadness, punching or yelling into a pillow, the energy dissipates and you won't feel stuck.
  2. Find your purpose. Does your work feel meaningless? Do your days feel empty? If so, Bijou suggests you answer the following questions: Why am I here? What am I doing? Where am I going? What is my purpose? What do I truly want? What is important to me? Don't censor yourself, and be patient and persistent. Finding your purpose can help you feel anchored.
  3. Align your goals. If you’re feeling unmotivated or complacent in your job, Bijou advises getting a clear picture of your long-term work objectives for 1 year, 5 years, and even a lifetime. Write down your work goals for these time frames. Are your daily actions moving you closer to these career goals or farther away? If the latter, you need to re-align and take steps to reach your long-term goals.
  4. Grade your job. Can’t decide if you need to look for a new job? Make a list of at least 30 ideal job qualities. Now give each item a score: 1 = your work has that quality; 0.5 = your work has it somewhat; 0 = your work lacks the quality. Now add up your score and divide it by the number of qualities in your list to arrive at a percentage. This should objectively tell you whether you should accept where you are or move on.
  5. Accentuate the positive. If you dwell on what's wrong around you more than what's right, you need to realize that you have limited control over your situation or environment, but you have total control over how you perceive it. Bijou suggests you find something positive about everyone you encounter and voice an appreciation for your job at least twice a day.
  6. Regain your balance. If you feel taxed, bored or overwhelmed, start by sleeping, eating and exercising regularly to bring your body back into balance. Do something each day to nourish yourself. Help another nurse who's struggling to give you a sense of mastery and accomplishment.
  7. Accept reality. Do you resist change at work? Do you feel annoyed by people who try to get you to do more work or do it differently? Feeling intolerant can put the brakes on your career. Make a list of everyone and everything at your job you don't like. Write and then repeat 11 times, "The [fill in the blank] is the way it is, not the way I think it should be." This little exercise will move you from frustration to true acceptance.


Nursing is one of the hardest, most demanding professions. But it can also be the path to a rewarding career—if you learn how to cope with its many challenges.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/


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  • Kathleen G
    Kathleen G
    This article is excellent. In 30 years of nursing I have experienced nurse burn out and this article has some great tips to help prevent this from happening.
  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    Thanks for your kind comments.  For those out of work and in dire straights, networking with peers can help. Try Nurses House at
  • Deborah A
    Deborah A
    I've been working at the same place for ten years, I'm now a certified nursing assistant and I find my work so motivating. I'm helping people everyday, but I'm looking for a better paying job with benefits. I just lost a gentleman who I had taken care of for five years and cried my eyes out. This is what I do when I lose a patient/resident and then I can continue my work. You just have to find way of grieving and then continue onward. Some good things in the article to think about.
  • Monique L
    Monique L
    sometihing to really think about, sometime the job or career feel right but others will make you doubt your abilities
  • Cindy S
    Cindy S
    These suggestions are unrealistic for me.  I can't 'take time' to regain my balance when foreclosure looms.  I can't 'realign my goals' when there's no money to reeducate. And I can't 'move on' when no one will give me an interview in another nursing field.
  • Julia W
    Julia W
    thanks, I needed that!
  • Joanne B
    Joanne B
    Sadness, anger, and fear.  Hmmm.  I am saddened by what nursing has become.  I am angry because my manager doesn't have a brain and she has her favorite pets.  I work damned hard everyday.  This profession sucks.  My fear is that thanks to this nursing profession and the economy I may never have enough money to retire.Crying, punching into a pillow?  You have to be kidding.  The reality is this - nursing sucks because of the people in it.  It has always been this way and always will.
  • Laura M
    Laura M
    very good. I burned out.
  • Claudia C
    Claudia C
    getting unstuck
  • Remy S
    Remy S
    I wished that I received this sooner. It helps. Now, I am finding my niche. Yes...I need to know my  goal, not just that, but something rewarding.Thank you.
  • Thomas R
    Thomas R
    Great article and it was actual and factual. Something that people can learn from.  
  • Irene W
    Irene W
    I "Thank You so much for these suggestions. For it has helped myself and others alike. Into looking into another better aproched of dealing with an career change and finding an better  counseling in the job market, mentally, phsically (sp) overall.  :-)
  • April S
    April S
    I think there's a lot to be said about putting the focus on the positive and expressing gratefulness.  Appreciating the job you have and the people who make your job easier make the daily experience better for everyone
  •  Rachel M
    Rachel M
    Good article. I like number seven, accepting reality,sound like good advice. Another challenge is not feeling like your in a nurse recycling bin which many employers seem to see nurses as. Difficult to make goals and plans if your continuously recycled,Meaning not valued or treated as a team member. Seems this is more challenging the longer you are in the nursing profession.
  • Barbara L. S
    Barbara L. S
    Thank you for writing and posting such a relevant piece. As a clinical social worker for 30+ years, I know what it is like to face meeting and becoming so intimately involved with so very many beginnings, middles and endings, with so many people. I have the greatest respect for nurses, 99% of whom I have gotten "to know" as they have cared for me and many family members and friends. In my lucky experience, nurses never held back from giving their all to patients and their families. They kindly offer time, effort, comfort and loving care in the now,  as well as hope for the future even when the situation is far from ideal. The greatest support and advice I received when my mother was dying came from nurses because they aren't afraid or reluctant to talk talk about and deal with death in real way (unlike the group of doctors who treated my parents for over 40 years!) Nursing is a professional career in which the quality of every-day life is honored. Nurses, and even some nurses'aids, believe in maintaining an individual's dignity.  When (a variety of) people-centered professionals do not follow your (or some variation of) wise and empathetic     suggestions, the suffering from "burn-out" or calloustreatment becomes inevitable.Thank you for doing all you do. No one would get well without you!
  • Dawn C
    Dawn C
    I find the article to be very encouraging and I embrace it.  Thank you.
  • Linda L
    Linda L
    This is a good article for caregivers and someone who may own an agency. Keeping focused on why you became  a caregiver, or why you are in this line of work is why this article is so important.
  • Joyce S
    Joyce S
    Really great tips for me and my troubling "burn-out" from my Nursing Profession of 28 years!
  •  Bobbi C
    Bobbi C
    This was awesome although I love my job I really could have used this when I was a nursing assistant and im sure I will need in the future Thx
  • tina n
    tina n
    I volunteer for our community hospice.  Four years now and have taken a leave of absence.  3 months is what I needed.  Will talk with the Hospice Social Worker and return in June.  I also groomer dogs in my own business for 23 yrs. Yes, everyone needs a break.  Don't be so hard on yourself.  The tips were great.  Thank you.
  • Arlene A
    Arlene A
    Having been in a situation of being overwhelmed and close to burnout, I feel the exercises above would be extremely helpful.  Especially aligning your goals and comparing them to what you are doing.  Are they in sync?  If not, you won't get ahead or ever feel satisfied no matter how hard you work at it.
  • Jane O
    Jane O
    I've been nursing for 38 yrs, LTC, geriatric, psyche, alzheimers and I'm done. I am an LPN which limits me. Went for the degree @ Regents and was failed for the elimination of one word in my Documentation. 14 courses, 14 exams, and the 3 day clinical.. That killed me. I'm limited and will never get over that failure of one word. Had all my plans to be an NP.
  • priscilla t
    priscilla t
    this article has really helped me gain some insight into what i need to do thanks for the help.
  • Morris C
    Morris C
    The advice is okay but I have more serious problems. I think I will look somewhere else so my problems won't be so over looked. I think your advice would have been useful 40 years ago but the workplace is different now with new concerns like the need for better forms of dealing with stress.
  • Sheri M
    Sheri M
    Helpful tips

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