Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system – facing challenging scenarios every day that require critical thinking and situational awareness. However, the rising and harrowing trend of nursing fatigue is threatening their ability to function at an optimal level – which is dangerous for both nurses and their patients.
The growing issue is posing a serious problem for hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country. In fact, a recent Kronos survey discovered that 63% of nurses are grappling with burnout. Findings also revealed that over 4 out of 5 nurses believe hospitals are forfeiting quality healthcare workers due to a lack of work/life balance.
Nurses struggling with burnout are in a state of physical and emotional duress due to ongoing stress and unmanageable workloads. The severity of this fatigue is contributing to high turnover rates, negatively impacting patient satisfaction and outcomes and compromising quality of care.
For these reasons, healthcare executives must begin implementing new measures to address nursing fatigue. Here are three key strategies to consider.
Restructure Demanding Work Schedules
Nurses already work long hours, yet they’re often required to stay “on the clock” past their allotted work shift. For a majority of hospitals and large healthcare organizations, 12-hour nursing shifts are considered the norm. While a “three days on, four days off” schedule may look ideal on paper, long shifts paired with mandatory overtime have shown to increase medical errors and burnout.
55% of nurses from the same Kronos survey said having greater control over their schedules would help reduce fatigue. While being involved in their own shift scheduling won’t completely eradicate nursing fatigue, healthcare organizations should explore collaborative scheduling opportunities, as well as nurse recruiting strategies to supplement staffing needs as fluctuation in demand rises.
Optimize Nurse-to-Patient Ratios
Time and time again, studies have shown a direct correlation between low nurse-to-patient ratios and burnout rates. Research from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found healthcare organizations with 1:8 nurse-to-patient ratios are over twice as likely to display elevated levels of emotional exhaustion compared to facilities with 1:4 ratios. The study also shows every additional patient over the 1:4 ratio increases a nurse’s burnout risk by 23%.
Optimizing nurse-to-patient ratios requires hospitals and healthcare facilities to bridge staffing gaps by partnering with a nurse recruiting firm. The ROI reaped from adequately staffing your medical practice will be astronomical across the board – decreasing nursing turnover (an estimated cost of $44,400 PER nurse), readmission rates and poor patient outcomes.
Train Leaders to Recognize Symptoms of Burnout
Hospital management and nurse leaders can play an integral part in helping facilities identify, address and prevent burnout. Establishing a training program that focuses on the signs and symptoms of nursing fatigue will ensure leaders are able to recognize workers who are disengaged or possibly experiencing burnout.
Some of these tell-tale signs include becoming increasingly withdrawn, a sudden uptick in absences, a rise in medical errors or patient complaints and becoming quickly agitated or frustrated by minor inconveniences. By recognizing signs of nursing fatigue early on, leaders can intervene and provide support – mitigating factors causing the burnout – before the issue becomes more serious.
Having a properly staffed facility is a crucial piece of achieving long-term success. By partnering with a nurse recruiting firm, healthcare leaders can tap into a pre-vetted network of highly qualified workers to maintain continuity of care, reduce burnout and turnover and deliver an unparalleled patient experience.
Contact our nurse recruiting experts today to learn more about how our healthcare staffing solutions can drive your business to new heights.