Nurses: Why Are We Letting Them Burn Out?

Burn out is real and a danger to all of us–both nurses and patients.  When your nurse is burned out, you get only part of the care that nurse is capable of.  When the nurse is burned out, the interactions on the unit become strained and difficult so communication among and between care teams is at risk.

As a nurse for 25 years, I can attest to the statistics floated in this article.  I cannot remember a single shift I worked where one of the other nurses would not complain about the state of nursing and vow to quit.  Not one shift.  That is terrible.  Nurses want to give good, competent care.  Nurses want to make patients better–improve their lives if possible.  But the truth of the matter is that they are overworked and with the advent of computerized charting must spend time away from their patients to chart.  Together these two things are driving nurses out of nursing in large numbers.

Please read this entire Huffington Post article and see if you don’t agree that there may be a significant problem on our horizon that no one seems to be interested in attending to.

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We Need Nurses More Than Ever. Why Are We Letting Them Burn Out?

The combination of an exodus of RNs and an influx of aging patients could create a health care crisis.

JOHN TLUMACKI/THE BOSTON GLOBE VIA GETTY IMAGES
Tufts Medical Center nurses picket in Boston on July 13 after being locked out after a 24-hour strike. One of the sources of stress nurses report is not being included in the decision-making process at health facilities.

About 10 years ago, Elizabeth Scala was a young RN, working on a psychiatric floor of a busy Maryland hospital. She’d been in the role for two or three years, and she’d risen to a position of authority, coordinating her colleagues’ activities as a charge nurse on the unit. From the outside, it looked like she had everything together, but inside she was so stressed out she was nearly falling apart.

“It was like Jekyll and Hyde,” Scala said.

When she got off work, she said, she would go home and pick vicious fights with her boyfriend. She wasn’t sleeping or eating well. She was constantly furious with her co-workers and supervisors. She remembers throwing a temper tantrum one night, flailing around on her bed like a 4-year-old.

Then the situation began affecting her ability to do her job.

“Eventually I just started to really resent going into work — dreaded going in — and actually didn’t want to talk much with the patients,” she said.

Scala finally left the job, shifting to a career in which she could use her nursing skills in administrative and research. She also wrote Stop Nurse Burnout, a guidebook for nurses who feel like she once did.

And that’s a lot of nurses. A survey earlier this year by travel nursing company RNnetwork found that almost half of the nurses they asked were considering leaving the profession. About a quarter said they felt overworked, 46 percent said their workloads had risen and 41 percent said they’d been harassed or bullied by managers or administrators. Making matters worse, with the aging of the baby boom generation, demand for health care is rising at the same time that large numbers of experienced nurses are retiring. That could lead to the worst nursing shortage in generations within the next decade.

Read the rest of this article here.

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