The healthcare space is fortunate enough to enjoy regular advances in the tech it uses to care for patients. Medical computers, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, the list of current and future advances goes on and on and will likely continue to grow into the unforeseen future. Unfortunately, what healthcare hasn’t enjoyed is advances in nursing and physician retention. The current nursing shortage is only one symptom of a larger problem the healthcare space has: maintaining a workforce that isn’t mentally and physically burning out at rapid rates and becoming disillusioned with their profession.  

And this is unfortunate because healthcare is first and foremost a personal endeavor, one that runs on providers’ innate desire to help and heal those in need. All the fancy surgical robots and AI assisted tools don’t mean a thing if the staff manning them are unable to work with the same level of passion they had when they started. So, what underlying causes are inspiring nurses to leave the healthcare profession they trained so vigorously for?

Why is There a Nursing Shortage?

In an ideal world, the nursing shortage would have one core cause to tackle. Unfortunately, the problem is rather multi-faceted. A few key factors have regrettably synced up, creating a perfect cocktail of symptoms for stunting morale. 

Aging Population

The US population as a whole is aging at a pretty rapid rate as we see the baby boomer generation increasingly require more and more health services. 2029 will see the last of the boomer generation age into retirement, meaning a 73% jump in the number of Americans aged 65 and older. 

And with the increase in the population’s average age, we’ll also see a proportional increase in the dependence on health services. Older citizens will need more intensive care for their increasing number of conditions which will place considerable strain on the nursing workforce. 

Burnout

As if the increase in needier patients wasn’t enough of a burnout contributor, nurses face morale crushing circumstances from all directions on a regular basis. After all, nurses are constantly on call, deal with sick patients in pain daily, and experience EHR burnout at the hands of tech that was supposed to make their jobs easier. 

Add to that the fact that nurses now have to deal with a needier, older population and a large cut in their workforce, and it’s not surprising to hear that 63% of hospital nurses report experiencing burnout which often results in early retirements or career changes for those afflicted.  

Retirement

The aging population isn’t just affecting those seeking care. Across several industries, a majority of the available workforce is also aging into retirement. Nursing in particular is beginning to see a massive hit in its available workforce as this mass exodus of baby boomers occurs. In fact, according to a survey by Health Workforce Studies, between now and 2030, somewhere around 1 million nurses will retire.

What makes the nursing shortage a special case is that this drop in quantity also means a drop in quality. With so many nurses retiring or dropping the profession even earlier due to burnout, less and less experienced nurses stick around long enough to onboard newer hires. This results in those new nurses burning out as they’re left to learn more on their own, which results in more retirement, which results in more burnout. It’s a vicious cycle, but one we can combat with these 3 tools.

1.) Scheduling Applications

One common cause of burnout across many different industries is poor work-life balance. This holds doubly true for nurses who typically work 10-12 hour shifts if they’re lucky and don’t need to cover a second shift. Additionally, nurses are also mandated to work a certain number of nights and weekends a month, making it incredibly difficult to have even a semblance of a consistent work schedule.

Scheduling apps developed with healthcare facilities in mind can help immensely in this regard. Using the app, a nurse can provide their ideal schedule, one that allows them to care for their families and handle their non-work related responsibilities. From there, the application can create an optimized schedule using the data inputted by all the nurses in the facility. 

In addition, with a fully digitized interface, requesting days off or switching shifts becomes much more streamlined, hopefully resulting in less sudden schedule changes and double shifts.   

2.) Authentication Hardware and Software

Nurses are in the business to help and heal people. While that process might be physically and mentally taxing, it’s rewarding work and the kind of work they sought to do. What nurses didn’t seek to do, however, is spend hours and hours a day archiving notes and logging into faulty EHR systems. Spending that much time a day performing menial tasks is more than emotionally taxing, it’s mind numbing and promotes dissociation, the emotions and actions that really lead to burnout.

Combating EHR burnout with authentication hardware and software that removes some of the redundancy behind repeated logins can help immensely.

Consider healthcare single sign on solutions which can remove the need for multiple logins while also providing enhanced security by authenticating user credentials and identity. On the hardware side of things, having your medical computer systems or medical tablets customized with authentication hardware can make the login process that much simpler. RFID scanners, for example, can make the process as simple as swiping a badge, meaning less incorrectly punched in passwords and less time-consuming password resets.

Those that require multi-factor authentication can also find a computer and tablet provider that allows for biometric and CAC reader customization.      

3.) Portable Monitors

If addressing EHR problems has taught us anything it’s that tackling nurse ailments must start with a critical look at the tools they use daily. With that in mind, there’s something nurses use just as much if not more than their EHRs: the computers those EHRs are housed on. To be more specific, the medical cart computer setups nurses are responsible for lugging around the hospital. 

Nurses are already run ragged without having to consider the bulky and heavy powered carts they transport up and down the halls. Thankfully, a battery powered medical monitor or a battery powered medical computer can remove the need for a heavy powered cart setup. 

Even better yet, an antimicrobial computer with hot swappable batteries can also eliminate the need for time draining recharges. Instead of spending hours charging the cart’s battery, backup batteries for the monitor itself can be charged on standby and quickly swapped out for dying ones. 

Those looking to go even more portable can also invest in medical grade tablets, cutting the need for carts altogether. Doing so can help nurses retain energy and also encourage older staff who may not have the strength to lug around a powered cart to stay longer and impart their knowledge onto newer, onboarding staff.   

Planning Ahead for the Nursing Shortage

The nursing shortage is bound to happen. There’s simply no helping the fact that a large portion of the workforce will soon be too old to work. In the face of this inevitably, the smartest thing facilities can do is address what they can help: burnout. For help learning what tech is necessary to address the burnout and nursing shortage problems, contact an expert from Cybernet today.