Nursing Burnout Articles
Nursing is a great field with flexibility in practice area. The “ registered nurse is trained as a general nurse who is free to move in and out of specializations, unrelated medical fields, and endless opportunity. ” (Williams, 2007). Often, the nature of the staff nurse’s job can be challenging and stressful. Staff nurses are often bombarded with many patients, medication administration, and paper work. Because of the workload, nurses may become burnout and the job they once enjoyed isn’t enjoyable any longer. Being burnout not only affects the nurse, but it affects the patients too.
When a nurse is burnout, it is unlikely he or she will do their job to the highest standard; patient care will not be at its highest quality. This paper seeks to address how nurses can enjoy and maintain the excitement of the field of nursing. Suggestions such as nursing prioritization development of good work ethics, exploring the profession of nursing, and nurses recognizing that they make a difference will be elaborated on in this paper. In all, if nurses are satisfied with their careers, patient outcome will be increased.
Burnout is widely defined as emotional fatigue leading to decrease personal accomplishment (O’Mahony, 2011). Research by O’Mahony found that 60. 9 percent of nurses reported burnout from her sample of ED nurses. Another research adds “nurses report high levels of burnout and job dissatisfaction, and almost one-quarter intend to leave their jobs within the next year” (Neff, Cimiotti, Heusinger, & Aiken, 2011, p. 4). Indeed, the issue of burnout needs to be addressed because many nurses want to leave the profession. The shortage of nurses puts nurses and their patients in danger.
In a similar study, Hinshaw (2008) also reports that concerns over inadequate staf? ng, providing safe care, long working hours with high levels of fatigue and a sense of not being valued or involved in decision-making processes all contributes to a nurse’s burnout. Leaders in healthcare can decrease nurses’ burnout and low morale by decreasing workload and creating an environment that is supportive of nurses. It is important for healthcare leaders to create incentives, and motivators for nurses to increase their work morale.
Nurse’s burnout causes many negative effects including increased absenteeism from sickness, decrease effectiveness and productivity, poorer job performance and patient care, and staff attrition and turnover, and basically unhappy nurses who hate their jobs. (O’Mahony, 2011). Every hospital or healthcare facility seeks to improve the care of its patients. Because nursing care is a major factor in increasing quality care, it is necessary that the nursing staff is competent and willing to improve care of their patients.
Satisfied nurses may do a poor job at nursing care which correlates to poor patient outcome. The American Nurses Association advocates for nurses by being actively involved in legislation concerning safe staffing for nurses. Concerning staffing issues, the ANA report it “ added this issue to its’ Nationwide State Legislative Agenda the support of state laws and regulations prohibiting the use of mandatory overtime as well as pursued federal legislation” (ANA, 2011). The Ohio house bill 346 also protects nurses by providing laws on staffing.
HB 346 “requires hospitals to establish staffing plans, with meaningful input from direct patient care nurses, which are consistent with the principles of safe staffing developed by the American Nurses Association and other nationally recognized organizations” (Ohio Nurses Association, 2011). The American Nurses Association as well as other nursing organizations should continue to advocate for nurses to work towards decreasing nursing workload and preventing burnout. Workload of the staff nurse can be heavy and in order to decrease stress and avoid burnout, nurses must learn to prioritize.
Prioritization is a skill that nurses need to obtain to make the very best use of their time. It is also important because the better nurses can manage and use their time, the less stress they will have because they can do their job when they are supposed to do it. To manage time, nurses “need to create an environment supportive of time management and patient care” (Kelly, 2008, p. 393). To help manage time, nurses must set priorities. Kelly (2008) advices nurses use the “first thing first principle. When a nurse realizes that certain things are more urgent than others, they can better manage their time to care for their patients in the time necessary.
Kelly (2008), explained that conditions that are life threatening is the highest priority and requires monitoring. When deciding which patient should be attended to first, the nurse must apply the ABC principle referring to airway, breathing, and circulation. When applying this principle, the nurse can attend to the patient with an airway problem first because it is most urgent; if a patient’s airway is blocked he or she w ll die if they are not attended to immediately. Another advice from Kelly (2008) on how to help decrease burnout is avoiding procrastination. In the hospital, anything can happen anytime and when the nurse least expect it to. When nurses procrastinate, they are putting themselves at the position to be stressed and thus be burnout. For example, if a nurse waits on an order to give blood at 8 PM, and decides to do it at 9 PM, at 9 PM just when she is ready to hang the blood, she gets the next admission.
Here is a case where a nurse can be overwhelmed because she needs to monitor her patient at least 15 minutes initially and she needs to attend to her new admission as soon as possible. Doing things as early as possible will decrease the nurse’s stress. In addition to applying “doing the first things first” and avoiding procrastination, nurses can prioritize by making a list of task to be completed during the shift. This can be done in numerous ways. A nurse can make a log sheet; assignment sheets where IVs, medications, orders, are marked out and the nurse fill it out throughout the day (Kelly, 2008).
In addition, to decrease nurse burnout, nurses must learn to assign or delegate appropriate tasks to other health care teams. Nurses are not the only people at the bedside to care for all of the patient’s need. Often times, license practitioner nurses as well as certified nurse assistances are available to help in their various ways. The nurse needs to know her role and the roles of the LPN’s and CAN’s so he or she can appoint the proper person to assist in an appropriate task. Nurses need to learn to use their resources so they are not over worked.
To maintain excitement in the field of nursing, nurses need to develop a good work ethic as well as find support systems. Daly (2004) suggests that while on the job people need to not just work hard but work smart. This means that not only do nurses need to know what to do and what not to do but when to do certain things and when to avoid doing other things. Daly (2004) also encourages nurses to do the right thing while on the job. If nurses are holding up to their standards, for example they are following their scope of practice; they will be less likely to be in trouble about issues such as hand washing.
She further continues to advice workers to hang around those who are positive, who think of excellence in the way that other workers do. Often times, nurses quit their jobs because they are overworked and feel alone. Nonetheless, it is important that nurses think of themselves as members of a team. Good relationships should be encouraged and developed further to increase teamwork and collaboration, and to reduce level of burnout. Kalisch, Lee & Rockman (2005) research findings suggest that efforts to “improve teamwork and ensure adequate staffing in acute care settings would have a major impact on staff satisfaction” (p. 38).
Because nurses are often bombarded by work overload, increasing and promoting teamwork in nursing will not only impact nursing staff satisfaction but increase quality of care. For example, if a critical care nurse has a harder assignment of three patients, if that nurse is not helped he or she may not have enough time to consistently perform mouth care on the critical care patient. If the nurse is too busy and misses out on simple things such as brushing the patient’s teeth, it can increase the patient’s risk of infection thus increasing mortality rate.
In their research article, Kalisch, Lee, & Rockman (2005) also suggest that quality of patient care, spirit of teamwork, and willingness to chip in increases job satisfaction. It is worth to recognize that when people work together, greater things can be accomplished. Therefore, nurses need to be encouraged to reach out for one another so that they can decrease burnout and maintain enjoyment in their various positions. The nurses working environment contributes to experiencing burnout.
One article adds “a number of nurses leave the profession early in their career as a result of problems within the working environment” (Hinno, Partanen, & Vehvilainen-Julkunen, 2011, p. 255). To increase job satisfaction and enjoyment, nurses need to find facilities which value support for professional development, adequate staffing, assuring nursing competence, supportive management. Nursing jobs that create such an environment creates a safe and friendly place in which the nurse can use, maintain, and enhance his or her skills. Research by Kelley (2006) compared satisfied workers vs. nhappy workers.
In his research, he found various factors contributing to job satisfaction. One of the things, discussed by Kelley (2006) was that people satisfied with their jobs felt it was easy to get off when they needed it. Flexibility is something that all workers appreciate. For example, an ED nurse who could switch schedules with another nurse because she had an important appoint would be extremely happy when her manager would approve of the switch in schedule. Kelley (2008) also found that most satisfied workers reported the highest numbers for working whenever they wanted.
Nurses who want to enjoy their working environment need the opportunity to voice out their opinions. Also, nurses need to find working environments that promote flexibility. In the article “Most Satisfied Employees Work Harder” by Kelley (2006), vacation time was discussed as contributing to worker’s satisfaction. Lastly, health coverage was one of the markers of job satisfaction. (Kelley, 2006). It is imperative that nurses find working jobs that provide such benefits. To maintain excitement in their profession, nurses need to take advantage of the vast array of options they have in the field of nursing.
Marcella William explains that “there are numerous advanced practice, research, management, education, and consultation opportunities that have further expanded nursing alternatives to bedside care in the past few decades” (2007, p. 26). There are opportunities in pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and even publishing companies. (William, 2007, p. 26). Nurses need to think outside the box and consider untraditional nursing roles. When considering the best job, nurses need to first identify the things they liked and least liked about their previous jobs. Mercier, Ford, Hambleton, & Ponto, 2007).
While considering alternative nursing jobs, nurses also need to consider the work environment that might “encompass hours, responsibility, required skills, and pay scale” (Mercier, Ford, Hambleton, & Ponton, 2007). Mercier et al. , (2007) encourages that nurses who want to consider alternative nursing jobs to investigate professional organizations as well as other resources which all provides opportunities to find a job. It is amazing that nurses can find almost every type of specialty in nursing.
From bedside nursing to technology, communications, legal issues, business, epidemiology, and so much more. There are numerous opportunities for nurses to pursue an exciting job. When bed side nurses want to increase their options of nursing jobs, furthering their education can impact their choices. To maintain excitement in the field of nursing, nurses can take the opportunity to further their education and career development in nursing. The idea of furthering education is supported by Hinno, Partanen, & Vehvilaninen (2007) as they also emphasize that when nurses further their education it has an impact on patient care.
Another great example of nurses furthering their education is to become a nurse practitioner or a scientist in the nursing field to further advance the course of nursing. There are various nursing jobs that the average bedside nurse may find interesting. One of the new nursing jobs is nursing informatics. Today’s use of technology has exploded and more and more technology is being used to enhance the delivery of health care. Nursing has taken on the challenge of technology and have created a nursing specialty called nursing informatics.
Nursing informatics is a “sub-discipline of health informatics that applies information technology to the skills and work of nurses in healthcare” (University of Illnois at Chicago, 2011). The discipline incorporates science of nursing, computer technology and information science to improve the quality of the nursing practice, through improved communication, documentation and efficiency. (University of Illnois at Chicago, 2011). Nursing informatics is one of the alternative sub disciplines that nurses can explore.
Other alternative nursing jobs are cruise ship nurse, travel nursing, forensic nurse, and flight nursing. A cruise ship nurse is a registered nurse with critical care, emergency care, and trauma care experience who works with other health care member on the ship. Travel nursing allows registered nurses to travel to various places to provide nursing care. A forensic nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in forensic evidence collection, criminal procedures, legal testimony etc. The forensic nurse usually works outside of the hospital and is involved in criminal cases.
Flight nurses are registered nurses that are specially trained to respond in emergencies to all types of patients during aero medical evacuation or rescue operations aboard helicopter and propeller aircraft or jet aircraft. Flight nurses need a bachelor of science in nursing or masters in nursing and take nursing flight RN exam to become certified. The flight nurse must also have experience in emergency or trauma nursing. Lastly, to maintain excitement in the field of nursing, nurses must realize that they make a difference each day.
The work of a nurse is definitely fulfilling in that nurses get to see firsthand lives healed with their help. One patient describes how helpful nurses were in this way; “from the beginning of my diagnosis, nurses, in various ways, have played active important roles in my healthcare team. On many occasions, nurses, through their keen observations and assertiveness, have made significant and lasting contributions to my care. ” (Goldsteine, 2002). Here, the patient describes how significant the nursing care was to her healing. Nurses can gain a sense of worth when they realize that they make a difference in their patient’s lives.
Another example of nurses working miracles in the life of their patient is a story of an Amish family who couldn’t afford the chemotherapy for their son. When the case manager acknowledges the needs of the Amish family, she quickly intervened. She contacted the pharmacy and received chemo drugs for the child for free. The nurse manager was truly an advocate for her patient and family and they were overjoyed. The mother cried as she thanked the nurse for her tremendous help. It is likely that the nurse went home that day with a smile because she knew she did something worthy; something worth her going in to work that morning!
Susan Jeffers once said “knowing that we can make a difference in this world is a great motivator. How can we know this and not make a difference? ” Nurses make a difference daily by caring for their patients, most of the time they nurse people back to health. However, because there is increase workload, less recognition, and autonomy, while managing the care of their patients, nurses can become overwhelmed and experience burnout. When nurses become burned-out, they are not as motivated nor are they productive and effective in their care as they could be.
Burnout then, is dangerous to the health of the nurse and his or her patients. Thus, it is important that nurses learn to prioritize to decrease workload, lean towards teamwork with other health care members, explore other interesting areas of nursing; the field of nursing brings unending career opportunities. Nurses need to re-evaluate themselves and their field of work and find their niche in the pool of great opportunities. Finally, nurses need to know that whether they are told or not, they are special and make a difference each day saving their patients.