Nursing burnout is a persistent challenge in healthcare, and it’s only intensified since the Covid-19 pandemic. With the potential to disrupt workplaces with high turnover, and even to lower the quality of patient care, burnout is a serious issue. The challenge is urgent, and, as the United States Surgeon General recently urged, addressing the causes of nursing burnout may be the best way to meet it.
How to Fight Back Against the Causes of Nursing Burnout
Calling out “the urgent need to address the health worker burnout crisis across the country,” a Surgeon General’s Advisory Addressing Health Worker Burnout from May 2022 called upon healthcare leaders to deal with the problem at its source: “Confronting the long-standing drivers of burnout among our health workers must be a top national priority,” stated U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
This echoes the consensus of clinical researchers, who have warned of the deteriorating situation for years. “As many as half of the nursing workforce are experiencing burnout, with likelihood of personal consequence, job dysfunction, and potential risk to patients,” as a study published in Nursing Outlook put it.
And, although the effects of nursing burnout are difficult to deal with, its causes are relatively easy to define. As the authors of a 2021 JAMA Network Open analysis explained, the primary reasons include:
- The “emotional strain and stressful work environment of providing care to sick or dying patients”
- Understaffing, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic began
- The feeling of working in a “stressful work environment”
- The feeling of being “overworked,” with the authors pointing out that “the number of hours worked per week by nurses” is linked to burnout, while function is not
With that in mind, the following tips, taken from the Advisory and a variety of other expert sources, can help employers implement safeguards against the most common causes of nursing burnout.
Work to Positively Transform Your Culture
“Transform workplace culture to empower health workers and be responsive to their voices and needs,” the Advisory suggests. “We can begin by listening to health workers and seek their involvement to improve processes, workflows, and organizational culture.”
At CareerStaff, we’re proud to be known not only for our services in healthcare workforce solutions, but also a great place to work. We’ve been ranked on the Great Places to Work list for five years running now, and that’s just one of a series of other notable recent distinctions that support the quality of our culture.
So, we want to double down on the importance of culture in the clinical setting. A negative environment or even a single toxic personality can be a major cause of nursing burnout — and one that’s difficult to face, too. If you’re looking for a little expertise on this topic, check out our recent guide to creating a positive corporate culture in healthcare.
Focus on Self-Care Awareness
September is Self-Care Awareness Month, a timely reminder of one of the most reliable ways to fight nursing burnout on a daily basis. By promoting self-care among your staff, you can help give them the tools and self-confidence they need to tackle the challenges of their job in a way that’s inspiring, rather than frustrating. For a good starting point, share this guide to self-care with your clinical team.
Practice Sensitive Scheduling
Covid-19 has taught many employers the value of flexible scheduling. Unfortunately, giving workers the time they need for a perfect work/life balance isn’t always possible. And that’s especially true during an ongoing workforce shortage that’s left many employers scrambling to stay fully staffed.
One strategy to meet this challenge is the use of contingency staffing services. By supplementing your regular staff with temporary or travel workers, you may be able to give them the time off they need to avoid feelings of burnout. It’s also a good way to make sure you’re adequately staffed throughout the year, which is another priority when it comes to fighting the causes of nursing burnout.
And that’s no small bonus. Ensuring adequate staffing, “including surge capacity for public health emergencies,” and which is “representative of the communities they serve,” is a critical way to “protect and sustain health workers and communities,” as the Advisory notes.
Partner with a Healthcare Managed Services Provider (MSP)
Some of these solutions for addressing the causes of nursing burnout may seem out of reach. After all, how can you supplement existing staff, when none are available?
For organizations in need of resources and workers to maintain optimal staffing and ward off the risks of nursing burnout, healthcare managed services providers (MSPs) specialize in offering customized solutions for facilities in every corner of the United States.
At CareerStaff Unlimited, for instance, we strive to deliver workforce solutions that can transform your culture and provide your staffing strategy with the resources to fight nursing burnout at its source. Reduced administrative costs, streamlined efficiency, improved compliance, better risk management, and greater program visibility are just a few of the additional benefits.
Ready to get started? Contact us today to learn more about the clinical workforce solutions available from CareerStaff.