Healthcare News & Insights

Nurses under more pressure than ever: How hospitals can respond

Your hospital’s nurses work hard. Along with doctors, they’re the front-line staff who are critical for effective care delivery and helping hospitals meet value-based care initiatives. And with facilities having trouble recruiting and retaining top-notch people, it’s more important than ever to make sure your nurses are happy and fulfilled. 

A new survey from RNnetwork, a travel nursing agency, sheds light on how your nurses are feeling about their jobs – and what it’ll take for them to stay around.

According to the 2018 Portrait of a Modern Nurse survey, one of the biggest issues nurses currently face is burnout. Out of all the nurses who responded to the survey, 62% regularly suffered from burnout in their jobs, and 44% felt  it impacted their work performance.

And things are getting worse: 40% of nurses think they have less free time now than they did two years ago.

At times, the impact of their burnout is so significant it gets nurses to rethink their career choice. Nearly half of respondents said they’ve considered leaving nursing entirely over the past two years.

Per the survey, the top three reasons why nurses want to leave their jobs are:

  1. Overwork (24%)
  2. Spending too much time on data entry in electronic health records (19%), and
  3. Not having enough time with patients (15%).

As nurses leave the profession, new ones aren’t lining up to take their place. Current nurses are feeling the pressure of the nursing shortage. The majority of nurses surveyed (91%) said their hospitals were understaffed, and it’s negatively impacted the workloads of 88% of them. Nearly half (46%) said they felt more overworked than they were two years ago.

Even worse: Almost 62% of nurses said the shortage was hurting the quality of care they provide to patients.

Job stress is also affecting nurses’ personal well-being. Over half of nurses surveyed (54%) said the pressures of their jobs impacted their mental health, and 35% said their mental health negatively impacted their work.

Next steps for facilities

To keep nurses from being overwhelmed at the thought of doing their jobs (or from quitting them entirely), hospitals need to make sure staffing levels are adequate for each shift – even looking into hiring temporary nurses, if necessary.

It’s also a good idea to explore ways to keep nurses more engaged and relaxed. Offering perks, such as on-site meditation classes, visits from therapy animals or comfortable lounge areas, can give nurses a break from the day’s stress, reducing the chance of burnout.

Hospitals can start by surveying their nurses on their own, asking them about their job satisfaction and looking for suggestions to improve retention and decrease burnout in their facility.

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