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Central Coast nurse offers solutions for emotional burnout among healthcare workers in new book

Olivia Lovejoy Signing Books at SV 05-11-22.jpg
Courtesy of Olivia Lovejoy
Olivia Lovejoy signing her book “Emotional Triage: A Nurse’s Guide to Overcoming Burnout and Compassion Fatigue.”

The last two years of the pandemic have put a major toll on the mental health and wellbeing of people of all professions, but healthcare workers may be especially prone to burnout, stress, exhaustion and trauma.

Now, a Central Coast nurse is highlighting ways for people working in the medical field to take better care of themselves in a new book.

The author, Olivia Lovejoy, is a nurse at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

“I started noticing in myself and the faces of my coworkers that although we’re really good at taking care of other people, we were kind of struggling to take care of ourselves,” Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy said healthcare workers deal with a lot of emotional baggage, especially during a time of intense pressure on the medical system. So, she said she’s focusing on giving advice and tips for medical workers to protect their emotional health.

“The book is intended to be very proactive,” Lovejoy said. “It’s meant to be very easy for someone in healthcare or any other profession to take these little skills and ideas and put them into use.”

Lovejoy said one thing that can help frontline workers cope with chronic stress is to redevelop a passion for their job.

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center - exterior.jpg
Courtesy of Olivia Lovejoy
Olivia Lovejoy is a nurse at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

“So being able to think back about why you got into the profession in the first place,” Lovejoy said. “There’s something in each shift that I can recognize that can kind of stand out to me that’s like, ‘Oh, that’s that little piece. That’s that little glimmer of satisfaction and of hope.’”

Lovejoy said people generally know being a healthcare worker is difficult, but they may not realize the extent to which people in the field deal with things like post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Increasingly, we are very much exposed to that. Part of the goal of this book was just to bring that to light, and to recognize the difficult and very important work that we do as healthcare workers,” Lovejoy said.

On a personal level, Lovejoy said writing about this and making writing a habit was her own way of practicing self-care as a medical worker.

“This is how this book came about. This book is me honoring myself and my need to express this,” Lovejoy said.

The book came out in March and is called “Emotional Triage: A Nurse’s Guide to Overcoming Burnout and Compassion Fatigue.”

The CDC has developed guidelines and resources for healthcare workers, including links to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and tips on building resilience.

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center is part of Tenet Health Central Coast, which is a KCBX underwriter.

Benjamin Purper came to KCBX in May of 2021 from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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