Hello and welcome. Thank you so much for joining Dr. Lorre’s Haelan Nurse Community, a safe and supportive space for all nurses who are experiencing some form of burnout or traumatization. 

As nurses, much of the traumatization we’re experiencing is due to avoidable factors such as the broken healthcare system, toxic workplaces or downright difficult patients, families, colleagues, coworkers, leadership… and the list goes on.

Over the course of our time together, it’s my intention to bring you all the love, support, and important resources and strategies for you need to insulate yourself from the harsh working conditions that all nurses are facing right now.  My goal is to help you can move from surviving to thriving in practice. Because, well, we all know, not any one of us can fix the broken system. 

By way of introduction, I have been in health and nursing careers since the 1970s. I got my start first cleaning toilets, actually, in a skilled nursing facility. When I turned 15, I was eligible to obtain my CNA (certified nursing assistant) license. And that’s how I put myself through high school and college. And I’ve been taking care of people ever since.  Now, I serve nurses in my role as an author, advocate, scientist, and a university nursing professor teaching in an integrative nursing entry-to-practice program.  

A lot of nurses that I work with in my integrative nurse coaching practice come to me with all sorts of challenges, and usually what they come to see me for isn’t really the root cause.  As I started exploring this with my clients, I started to realize there was so much more to the burnout story than met the eye.

And that got me as a nurse scientist. I mean I love to ask big questions and spend lots (and lots and lots!) of time in the evidence base. So there’s my geek flag 🚩. It’s going up right now as we speak! 

As I was working with nurses prior to the pandemic and I was really leaning into the fact that there’s so much more going on here. What my clients were experiencing was not just burnout.  Something else was going on.  I started researching the operational definitions of burnout.

What I discovered is that burnout is typically “stress that hasn’t been effectively managed” and is restricted just to the workplace. I’m a whole human being, I and all nurses, we’re whole people. We don’t just separate ourselves and take one part of ourselves to work, and the other part of us stays at home. So,  when we talk about burnout, it’s really a deeper multisystem syndrome that affects millions and millions.

And there’s more to it. It’s not just burnout in the vast majority of times.

So that got me really asking some big research questions. I was looking at all of this, and then the pandemic hit, and oh my gosh, it was like having a front row seat into the worst that nurses have ever experienced. And it broke my heart 💔. 

But also I knew it was a tremendous opportunity to really study it in a very deep and intimate way through all the social media outlets and video channels.

People were posting so transparently about what they were experiencing. That’s gold for a scientist, in my case a qualitative researcher. This was so rich and so moving.

During this time, I like everyone else, I watched the Tiger King 🐯👑 series, and I baked a lot of sourdough bread 🍞and did a lot of the pandemic pastries 🍰 when we were going through that process. 

And then, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.  I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to really examine and try and find a solution for burnout. But what I discovered was is that burnout and nurse specific traumatization, which I will unpack in future videos, have substantial overlap in their symptomology.  When you really start deep diving into the literature the way that I did, you find there’s substantial overlap between nurse-specific traumatization and burnout.

And so what appears to be burnout on the outside is often so much more on the inside.  Nurses are telling me: “please stop telling me about burnout”. 🛑”Stop telling me about resilience and ⛔ stop talking about self-care”. 🚫

Nurses are feeling gaslighted by the community, by their employers, by the healthcare organizations and, and even by other nurses. We have a much bigger problem than just burnout.

What we have at the root cause in many, many cases, is unintegrated trauma.

And part of the reason for that is that nurses are among the high risk professionals. Right up there with military combat personnel, law enforcement, first responders, paramedics, and firefighters.  Nurses are right up there in the high risk professions for trauma exposure. And yet, over 83% of nurses report insufficient resources and support.

Well, not only insufficient, insufficient and lacking support, as in zero 0️⃣. There is virtually nothing to support nurses, as high-risk professionals, with the massive trauma exposure. 

Actually, nurses experience trauma exposure in three different ways (individual, avoidable and unavoidable nurse-specific trauma). We experience it as individuals. In our personal lives, we have all experienced hardships.

The AACN, which is the American Association College of Nurses, which is pretty prestigious organization that really guides nursing curriculum across the country here in the US, came out with a position statement that said that we as nurses should assume that everyone has been exposed to trauma and that everyone has been traumatized in some fashion.

Well, nurses are a subset of that population. So we, as humans, as individuals, we have a personal life and we may have been exposed to any number of traumas and hardships. Some of which we may have fully integrated and healed through, some of which we may still be embodying in various degrees of healing. And those come with us to work. I can’t just take off my arm and leave it at home and go to work, any more than I could take off the unintegrated trauma and not take it to work.

And then we get over to our workplace and we have a lot of unavoidable trauma exposure that is inherent to the nursing profession. It’s part of what we do. We help and are with people in their most vulnerable states.

And that is a big burden for us to carry. If that was all the nurses would probably not be leaving the profession in mass exodus format. So what is also on top of that?

Well, what we have here is trauma layers. We have here the trauma that we as individuals, every human has been exposed to. Some of it is healed, some of it is in various degrees of healed, and it’s stored in the body.

Then we have the unavoidable trauma exposure that is inherent with nursing. It comes with the job just like the other high risk professionals.

Now, here’s the straw that starts to break the nurses back. Then we have the avoidable trauma exposure like the healthcare system inadequacies, the short staffing, the lateral violence, the bullying, the not having resources, the system failures…

We have near misses, sentinel events, adverse events that many times are secondary to these insufficient resources. This is all avoidable.

And so it’s like the trifecta of trauma exposure. And that is really what is at the core of burnout that nobody is talking about until now. Because we now have theoretical framework to help us understand what is really happening.

I do want to acknowledge one of my colleagues, Dr. Karen Foli over at Purdue, who recently published The Middle Range Theory for Nurse Psychological Trauma. Finally, there is theoretical framework to guide us in carving out a solution. And so let us not necessarily call it burnout. Let us not talk about self-care. Nurses know how to take care of themselves. 💯 This is not the problem.

Telling nurses to do better self-care or work on their resilience is perceived as gaslighting. 😳  I’ve talked to thousands, literally thousands of nurses, and all are telling me the same thing.

So let us start calling it what it is. It looks like burnout on the outside – to the uninformed eye. But when you start digging deep into the literature, I did research across four different disciplines . . . Oh, wait, a few more of my geek flags flying up. 🏴🏳🚩😅. . . so when you really start unpeeling it, and you start looking at this through the lens of Polyvagal Theory, which I will explain later in more detail, you can really start to see it.

That’s why I spent the last five years coming up with an actionable, evidence-based process, that all nurses can use to start insulating themselves and starting to navigate the healthcare system in a more healthy manner. Because, as we all know, the broken system isn’t going to fix itself anytime soon. It’s just not. I’ve been around for almost 50 years.

It just keeps getting worse and worse for nurses. We all know this. I’m not calling anyone out. I’m just calling it as I see it and as I have lived it, and as most of you have seen and lived it. 

So I’m just so grateful that you are here, and I hope you’ll continue to tune in. I have written an entire book, Nursing Our Healer’s Heart, A Recovery Guide for Nurse Trauma and Burnout. So if you haven’t received your complimentary first chapter yet, please just fill the “Free Gift” form below.  Join our private (spam free) community and get your free chapter which will only be available for a limited time.

And then please add me (lorre@drlorrelaws.com) to your contact list so that my messages, emails, tips, strategies, all the resources that I have for you, will actually find their way to you! 🙏🏻

So thank you so much for your time and attention. It’s just my heartfelt pleasure to be of service.  In light and love, from my healer’s heart to yours, thank you for the important work that you’re doing.  Namaste. 💕

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