The choices we make and the results of those decisions are molded by the instances in which we are facing, our own beliefs, and the behaviors of the people around us. Our choices and actions impact our society. In this essay, I will explain the “sociological imagination” according to C. Wright Mills and his distinction between personal troubles and public issues. I will also provide an example of how I’ve had to utilize sociological imagination in my personal life.
[bookmark: _Hlk3372065]C. Wright Mills introduced the sociological imagination in 1959. He explained how private issues and public troubles relate. The sociological imagination is the ability to socially see things and how they interact and influence one another. To have a sociological imagination, a person must be able to pull away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view (Crossman 2019). It is important that people can relate the situations that affect them in how they live their daily lives to the local, national, and global societal issues. Without the ability to make those relations, people are unable to see societal issues that affect them and are unable to determine if these issues require change to better their everyday lives.
Burnout is a very significant issue in the world of nursing. A few months ago, I left a job I really loved in the beginning. I was working in long term care at the time as a nurse. In the LTC setting there is no official nurse-to-patient ratio; there is a suggested staff-to-patient ratio. I went from having roughly 20 patients to almost 40. I ended up resigning because of burnout and always working short staffed. Some nights it would be so short it would only be two nurses in the entire building. The job became short staff due to high turnover rates and staff just simply not coming into work. Imagine having patients coding on different halls, a fall, and having to send someone out to the hospital with only one crash cart and two nurses. That’s almost impossible to do. I was so exhausted physically and mentally. I knew I could not do my job as efficient as I once had before if I stayed. Each time I worked short I took the risk of jeopardizing my license. Burnout caused me to leave prematurely due to heavy workload, job dissatisfaction, and lack of support from management.
There are many reasons why this could’ve happened. This could’ve happened specifically because the facility I was working at was brand new. It had only been open for 7 months when I left. Newer facilities have higher turnover rates because they are trying to establish structure. Employees were hired with three days of orientation and just thrown out on the floor to work. Desperate times called for desperate measures. The management was unsupportive and selfish. They also lacked the necessary clinical staff for the nursing department as well which played a big part. In general, there is a shortage in the world of nursing. The baby boomer population is steady increasing which creates more demand for nurses (Grant, 2016). Baby boomer nurses are aging and retiring which also contributes to the shortage. With this shortage it also affects nursing student’s enrollment (Haddad, 2019). More than one half million RNs are expected to leave the force or retire by 2022 according to the Health Resources and Administration at the U.S. Health Department (Grant, 2016). These are just a few examples of social forces that influence burnout due to being understaffed.
If I could design society differently and create my own utopia related to burnout and understaffing I would have an official nurse to patient ratio to enhance safe practice. Having adequate nursing staff for patients ensures the safety and quality of care. Less medication errors, falls, health care related infections, and death could be prevented. In return burnout wouldn’t be an underlying issue causing the shortage.
In conclusion, the sociological imagination is the ability to socially see things from another point of view. Utilizing sociological imagination can improve a personal situation by being aware of how it can affect their society. In this paper I described sociological imagination and provided an example of how I was able to benefit from it in that situation.