NURSE Dilemma: Student Burnout



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Clinical Dilemmas are a new series of clinical reasoning case studies that emphasize the “art” of nursing. Each study has an emphasis that integrates aspects of caring, spiritual care, nurse engagement/presence, and ethical decision making and its relevance to nursing practice.

These case studies can be used in the classroom as an active learning tool to develop the ethical comportment of nurses as well as in post-conference in the clinical setting. Students will also develop clinical reasoning as they identify relevant clinical data, determine the nursing priority and resultant nursing interventions.

Overview of Dilemma

Most nursing students experience high levels of stress. For some, it crosses a line and the slow fade of burnout can steal the joy and passion of caring for others. Nursing has one of the highest rates of burn out of any profession. Identifying EARLY signs of burnout and practical strategies to cultivate self-care is required and is the emphasis of this nursing dilemma.

Scenario Begins…

Susan Peterson is a 21-year-old second year nursing student at a local community college who consistently received As in high school, but has been able to maintain only a C average since she began the program. She continues to work thirty hours a week as a nursing assistant to support herself. She wants to be the best nurse possible and if she does not raise her grades, her expectations and perceptions of herself are directly impacted. Though she has made adjustments in her study habits and feels she knows the content, her grades have not improved.

This additional stress has caused her to feel mentally and physically exhausted even though she feels that she is getting enough sleep. She has neglected to take time to attend church or maintain relationships outside of school this past semester because “I don’t have the time.”

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