Stress and Burnout in Nurse Anesthesia
Anthony Chipas, CRNA, PhD Dennis McKenna, CRNA, MSNA
This study was designed to determine the current American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Wanda level of stress and its physical manifestations in Cer- Wilson, CRNA, PhD, distributed a link to this survey tified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and in 2 electronic requests to approximately 28,000 nurse student registered nurse anesthetists, it also looked anesthesia providers. The response rate was 26.9% (N at coping mechanisms individuals commonly employ = 7,537). Based on responses and comments, recomto combat the effects of stress. The study used data mendations can be made for future Wellness intervencollected between February and May 2008 using a tions for the Association and for individuals. Stress and Burnout Survey on an online survey tool (SurveyMonkey). The fiscal year 2008 president of the Keywords: Burnout, stress, Stressors, symptoms.
he American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) estahlished its Wellness Program in 2004 with the objective of developing and implementing functional strategies of health promotion and the elements of Wellness, balance, and self-care into the lives of nurse anesthetists. Prior to the push by the AANA for Wellness, the professions for the last 25 years had heen served hy a group of dedicated peer advisors who attempted to enlighten members about the dangers of stress and substance abuse. Unfortunately, many nurse anesthetists still envision the concept of Wellness in our profession as peer assistance activities such as being ahle to avoid or deal with the consequences of substance abuse. Wellness goes much further than peer assistance; it involves a balance within us, including our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. It means caring for ourselves as much as we care for our patients, i
Often, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) do not recognize that the same stress response we count on and acknowledge in our patients is also at work in our own bodies hecause of stress both on the joh and in our personal lives. Stress is the body's way of reacting to different situations, hoth good and bad. Chances are that if we are feeling stress at work we are likely to experience stress in other aspects of our lives.
Stressors, or events that evoke stress in an individual, vary among all of us. What may provoke stress in one individual may not in another; furthermore, we each have different built-in abilities to adapt to stress. The knowledge, skills, and administration of anesthesia are learned and practiced in a stressful environment. In the classroom, students are homharded with lectures, skill challenges, and the emotional experience of being no longer the expert in the nursing unit but a novice in a new environment. In the surgical setting, the actions that we take or those that result from the actions others take can cause changes in our patient that ultimately lead to increased stress in ourselves. Our ancestors used the responses of "fight or flight" to cope with the daily pressures of survival. Unfortunately, nurse anesthetists cannot adopt these same responses to cope with school, their jobs, or everyday life. Fighting or fleeing is not an option. Coping, negotiating, acquiescing, and reconciling are the more frequent and demanding choices. Stress is unavoidable but is not all had. Too litde stress leads to sleep and boredom, whereas too much stress gives us a sense of panic and tension. Acute stress is the most common form of stress. It comes from demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future, such as our joh of providing anesthetics or attending nurse anesthesia school. Fortunately, most people recognize acute stress symptoms. Because it is short term, acute stress does not www.aana.com/aanajournalonline.aspx
All anesthesia providers know the effects of the surgical...
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