The topic of healthcare worker burnout, especially among nursing staff, has been a hot topic since the pandemic began. While it may seem like a talking point of the past, the reality is that nurses in all areas of healthcare are experiencing high expectations, staffing shortages, and added pressure for patients today in 2022.
While there will continue to be multiple factors that contribute to nurse burnout, here are three more specific examples and how they can impact the physical and mental health of nurses. Different areas of healthcare experience different sets of circumstances, but nurses working in hospitals, clinics, home health, or triage can all be susceptible to factors that contribute to nurse burnout.
Patient To Nurse Ratio
With the reoccurring need for more nursing staff, shortages of qualified nurses continues to be one of the major factors that contribute to nurse burnout. With all people needing medical care at one point or another, there may not be enough nurses to handle the demands of their facility at one time. With a higher patient ratio in need of care, because of COVID-19 and a higher elderly population, nurses are extremely desirable.
National Nurses United recommends specific RN-to-patient ratios for a safe staffing environment. Some of these ratios are:
- Medical/Surgical 1:4
- Emergency Room 1:3
- Intensive Care 1:1
- Psychiatric 1:4
With fewer patient assignments, nurses can spend more time and dedicate more attention to their patients. Not only will the ratios help stop burnout, but patients will receive better care.
Compassion is another factor in burnout and is defined by a combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with caring for patients in significant emotional and physical distress. Compassion fatigue is one of the major factors that contribute to nurse burnout because it affects every aspect of the nurses life and job.
Empathy is a key component needed for being a healthcare professional, so when it starts to deplete, not only is the mental health of nurses affected, the overall care of all patients declines. Other smaller triggers of compassion fatigue can include:
- Working in a dangerous setting
- Specializing in end of life care
- Being abused while providing care
- Witnessing multiple patient deaths
Traumatic experiences for anyone make it hard to knock down barriers and be vulnerable. With a job such as nursing, these barriers often need to be down to truly interact with the patient. Nurses experience burnout when they can not seem to escape their triggers and stress.
A workplace that feels chaotic, disorganized, and appreciative would be a hard environment for anyone. Healthcare settings need to be organized for the patients sake, but feeling disoriented as an employee is one of the factors that contribute to nurse burnout. A disorganized workplace was one of the highest contributors that nurses mentioned that fueled their burnout. When nurses feel unsupported by doctors, medical boards, and other supporting staff, it becomes difficult to want to serve.
Once burnout starts to take over, nurses will go through the motions rather than engaging in the job and patients needs. Nurses that are affected will start to make more mistakes, or become forgetful. With predictions showing that the demand for nurses will continue to increase, working to stop factors that contribute to nurse burnout sooner, can save the healthcare industry from a crisis. Budget cuts for the hiring of CNA’s will continue to put stress on already overworked nursing staff.
Dealing With Burnout
Now that factors that contribute to nurse burnout are at an all time high, it is important for nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals to take a break. In a fast paced world, there seems to be no room for rest, but rest is one of the biggest relievers of stress and burnout.
Professional care is also available to healthcare professionals. Those with symptoms of burnout or physical ailments should keep up with regular appointments with physicians. Finding underlying causes to problems could occur at these appointments, and thoughts and feelings of burnout could be remedied with self care and proper medication.
Our team at CareXM is dedicated to understanding the needs and concerns of nurses. Nurses are the difference between life and death oftentimes and are involved in patient care up until their final moments.
Telephone triage is an optimal way for some healthcare workers to take a needed break. With the convenience of triage, many nurses spend less time worrying about the small stuff and truly treating patients. Healthcare facilities will no longer be overwhelmed with calls when you work with CareXM. With after-hour calls, home health nurses, and programs to help your business stay on top of patient needs, quality care is on the table.