Nurses are an incredibly kind, thoughtful, and skilled group of people. Many enter the profession as a kind of calling, feeling the need to help as many people as possible by providing the perfect blend between compassionate and educated care. It’s because the profession is so closely tied in with emotional values such as this that burnout in nurses, when not addressed, can be devastating to morale, causing many to quit the profession altogether.

Unfortunately, with the current global pandemic, burnout in nurses is at an all-time high as now, on top of their already rigorous and stressful responsibilities, nurses now have to worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones who may be in contact with them. NurseGrid mirrored this in a survey they ran in which nurses highlighted their top three concerns in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found that 79% of nurses feared infecting their loved ones most. Right next to that, 61% feared becoming infected themselves and 30% feared experiencing burnout symptoms in both themselves and their colleagues.

Burnout in nurses is usually a multi-pronged issue and current events are only adding more layers to it. However, while there surely isn’t a simple fix, there are definitely ways to address burnout. Of course, doing so requires understanding the issue, its symptoms, and its causes.   

What is Nurse Burnout?

Nurse burnout, like many other types of burnout felt by all of us across several industries and professions, is a phenomenon in which nurses feel profound exhaustion, lost drive and motivation, anger, stress or even depression in response to overwork and emotional trauma.

Burnout for many of us in different fields often ends in very similar results, disengagement, dis-involvement, and lack of energy that ultimately hampers our quality of work. Unfortunately, a drop in quality of work for a nurse means patients get sicker, weaker, and sometimes worse, which can only exacerbate burnout in nurses who, as we mentioned, are very giving and empathetic people. 

Nurse Burnout Statistics 

Staying abreast of nurse burnout statistics is important for those looking to truly understand what burnout in nurses looks like. Treatment for a condition such as this begins with understanding the most common pain points brought on by that condition. 

HealthLeaders emphasizes that 63% of hospital nurses report experiencing burnout. The issue has even gotten common enough to the point that the WHO recognized the phenomenon, defining it as a “syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

In addition to these general amounts of burnout in hospitals, the COVID crisis is also going on to shape the kinds of concerns felt by nurses. The NurseGrid study we mentioned earlier lists “delivering poor care” and even “public complacency” and “life after the pandemic” as some of the most common concerns shared by hospital nurses.

What Causes Burnout in Nurses?

So, now that we’ve re-established just how common the issue is, what causes nurse burnout? 

High-Stress Environments

Speak to any nurse and they’ll tell you just how little time they had to breathe between jumping from patient room to patient room even before the outbreak made life or death scenarios in the ER the daily norm. 

While overwork is a very common cause of burnout for many types of workers, nurses suffer the added stress of dealing with sickness and death regularly and often with people who they begin to form an emotional connection with as they treat them. Couple that with the incredibly compacted schedule nurses regularly deal with and they’re hardly given any time to grieve and decompress. 

Of course, sickness and death are a part of the job description for a nurse, outbreak or not. Many realize that when they start the job. The burnout and issues arise when these losses and emotions aren’t dealt with in the proper way. 

Poorly Integrated Tech

Medical technology has come a long way, but EHRs, the most used software across any medical facility for logging patient notes, hardly lend themselves well to streamlined patient care. In fact, EHR physician burnout has remained at an all-time high as EHR compatibility issues run rampant, making clinical collaboration improbable and patient care near impossible without several hundreds of logins a day. 

Interoperability, however, isn’t something healthcare facilities can really tackle alone. However, if the hardware these facilities choose to deploy don’t address and try to alleviate issues such as login fatigue where they can, they’ll only end up hurting their nursing staff more.  

A Lack of Nurses

It’s no secret that the nursing profession has been suffering a shortage of skilled labor. Nurses have always been understaffed, working well over 12 hours a week and barely receiving time to care for their loved ones and families much less look after themselves. Before any of the COVID developments, the nursing profession was even expected to take a massive hit between now and 2030 according to studies that reported nearly 1 million nurses were about to age into retirement. And it’s not as if these numbers can be easily replenished with new nurses since the training and education necessary to enter the profession in the first place are prohibitively expensive. 

Now, take all of those issues regarding the nursing workforce and amplify it by 10 as several new and veteran nurses are bombarded with patients, overwork, fear of infection. It’s very likely we’ll only see more retirees very soon if the proper steps aren’t taken today and after this outbreak comes under control. 

How to Reduce Burnout in Nurses

Ending or reducing burnout hasn’t been boiled down to a science yet. There are simply too many variables to have a single, proven approach. That said, keeping in mind everything we’ve learned from studies and surveys mentioned above, there are a couple of policies your facility can start up that can make a dent. 

Make Your Infection Protection Policies Clear

In these times, nurses’ compassionate sides are fueling their stress. They don’t want their loved ones and patients to get sick. Understanding this, it’s the healthcare facility’s job to address these concerns of their staff. If you have policies regarding the allocation of PPE supplies, sanitation, and social distancing, make those known and tell your nurses what changes are being made to keep infected patients safe and unable to infect others. Not only does making these policies known to help your staff facilitate them, it also quells nurse and physician concerns, if only a little. 

Also take the time to educate nurses and staff on proper sanitary procedures, the various types of PPEs, and which should be used when. Most of your staff may already be familiar with these practices, but, seeing these procedures being treated with this amount of attention can help even trained staff feel like their health and the health of their loved ones are in good hands.  

Invest in Proper Hardware

Don’t just speak about the importance of sanitation, show your staff you mean it by investing in equipment and hardware that make these sanitary efforts possible.

Fanless medical computers have proven to be essential in facilities looking to combat infectious diseases since their designs are optimized to limit the circulation of harmful bacteria through fans, opting instead to cool internals with heat sink technology.

If your nurses are jumping from patient room to patient room with a portable device such as a hospital tablet PC, be sure the model you invest in is ip65 certified, allowing your staff to sanitize the device as often as they need to in order to address their concerns over contracting the disease and spreading it. 

Lastly, large 4K medical displays capable of sharing more information and supporting nursing scheduling apps can also help alleviate EHR issues and compacted schedules by opening up more space for crucial information to be displayed (though compacted schedules may just be the norm until COVID cases are brought under control).

Burnout in Nurses Does Not Need to Be the Norm

With how common burnout has been in the healthcare space, there are too many who simply chalk up the affliction to just being the nature of the job. While overwork and emotional trauma are sure to occur in the nursing field, we must not forget that these compassionate professionals expect to face a certain level of these stressors. It is not their ill-preparedness that leads to burnout, it is inefficiencies and problems with the healthcare space. And it is these inefficiencies we need to tackle however we can as a means of paying back the nurses and healthcare staff that give up so much to give to others. For more information on how you can employ the right hardware to address burnout in nurses, contact an expert from Cybernet today.