I’ve been a director of nursing services for several years. I’m thinking of leaving due to burnout. What can I do to feel rejuvenated?

Despite its rewards, being the lead nurse can be exhausting. The trick is caring for others by caring for yourself. Before you give up, re-examine your approach to meeting the many demands of the DNS role. Sometimes, even slight adjustments to leadership practices can transform the experience felt at work.

Consider: Do you delegate enough? If staff run to you with every issue, you will burn out. Share responsibility. Train nurse managers to take charge and resolve issues so you have help carrying the load. Delegating builds managers’ leadership skills while freeing some of your time — which is especially important during the holidays. 

Also, periodically disconnect. Everyone needs breaks, especially the DNS. Plan a vacation where you cannot be interrupted. When I was a DNS, I vacationed outside of the country because no one could contact me. When I focused on my getaway, I’d come back refreshed and ready to get back to work. 

If those steps seem impossible, get a mentor. Having someone to share challenges with can be a lifeline when you’re drowning. A regional nurse, administrator or another DNS can bring objectivity to problems you’re close to. Find someone who can relate to your challenges and help troubleshoot.  

Invest in yourself. At least once a year, dedicate time to learning something new. Educational events can refresh perspective while building skill sets. 

Ultimately, remember why you chose nursing. Write it down, alongside why being the DNS matters to you. Review as needed. Reorienting around what’s important can help you refocus and reinvigorate.