It is a truth universally acknowledged that a happy worker is a better worker. Therefore, organizations are seeing the benefits of investing in staff wellness. According to research, 30% of American employees are engaged at work. So, most people think of work as a dispiriting experience. And the situation is just going to get worse in the future.
Low engagement at work is a side effect of stress and burnout that are significant problems in the healthcare sector. It’s important for nurses to remember to apply for jobs that match their values and help them grow as a nurse. Indeed, there is a reason why most nurses retire early or make a career change. Since nurses work crazy shifts, they are especially vulnerable to burnout. Furthermore, staffing shortages only exacerbate the situation. One research found that 34% of hospital nurses and 37% of nursing home nurses experience burnout.
The pandemic has only worsened the situation. Therefore, it more important than ever that we take nurse wellness seriously.
Why are the impacts of low nurse wellbeing metrics?
Employee welfare is vital as it interferes with productivity levels. And the situation is even direr in the healthcare sector. According to experts, patient experience is a valuable metric for patient recovery. Patients who are more satisfied with their treatment have faster recovery rates. But a better patient experience depends on several things, and one of the most important metrics is the quality of care.
Studies suggest that high-stress levels and burnout can interfere with the care provided by nurses and doctors. Patient experience and quality of care have a link with the wellness of the nursing staff. So, the happiness of nurses makes a marked impact on patient recovery.
When nurses experience ongoing stress, they eat poorly. Burnout can also lead to drug and alcohol abuse as well as nicotine addiction.
Who can make a difference?
Individuals graduating from online DNP programs can help shape better policies for their peers. They can take the initiative to introduce stress therapy at work. Furthermore, they can implement better health policies in the workplace to reduce burnout and stress.
What is compassion fatigue, and what does it mean for the patients?
Compassion fatigue is the emotional residue from traumatic situations. People who suffer from this condition feel that life is unfair. Furthermore, they might be disconnected from their work and become closed off to their peers. This condition emerges suddenly and affects more people compared to burnout. According to research, more than 80% of nurses suffer from nursing fatigue sometime during their career.
It can also negatively affect the quality of care in the healthcare sector. People with compassion fatigue have low morale and become physically and emotionally exhausted. Furthermore, absenteeism is associated with compassion fatigue. Nurses who leave their jobs early usually do so because of compassion fatigue.
Nurse welfare in the age of COVID-19:
Nurses were under unprecedented stress during the pandemic. Not only were they at the frontlines, but they also faced PPE shortages. Most countries struggled to provide nursing staff with the proper equipment to avoid infections. The brave nurses worked overtime, often staying for three-day-long shifts.
Due to a lack of protective equipment, nurses made 30% of the deaths from COVID-19. The high workload and fear of infections led to unprecedented levels of stress amongst nurses. Patients even harassed some nurses, which exacerbated the situation. Commentators fear that nurses might develop long term mental health issues due to their current work conditions.
The need to improve health support:
Nurses are at high risk of stress, burnout, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, the rate of suicide among female nurses is exceedingly high. According to research, nurses have a 25% higher chance of suicide. There is a need to improve access to mental health services to prevent suicide.
The need for integrative nursing:
High-quality nursing must be proficient, empathic, and humane. Experts believe that integrative nursing can simultaneously improve nurse welfare and transform patient-centered care. The principles of integrative nursing are relation-based and people-centric. According to the principles of integrative nursing, humans are treated as products of their environments. Therefore, healthcare systems must focus on the wellness of their mind, body, and soul. Furthermore, integrative nursing prefers the use of nature to promote healing and restoration.
Nurse wellbeing initiatives:
During this time, many companies took action to improve nurse welfare. Indeed, American Nurses Foundation announced a wellness initiative for the brave warriors who fought at the frontlines. The foundation provides nurses access to digital mental health and wellness resources to support them during the pandemic. The fundamental goal of these resources is to offer responsive measures and preventive actions to build resilience.
There is a hotline for nurses to talk about self-care and wellness. The Nurses Together initiative provides nurses support through conversation. The calls are one hour long, and details are kept confidential. They provide nurses with a safe space to let their guard down and talk about the traumatic situations they must deal with.
Other initiatives offered direct financial assistance to nurses. For example, the COVID-19 Fund offered one-time grants of $1,000 to qualified nurses who had contracted the virus.
Nurses were already under a lot of stress pre-pandemic. Research conducted in 2017 found that 63% of nurses reported burnout. The rate of burnout has only increased during COVID-19. As the situation begins to make a physical and mental strain on nurses, there is a dire need to invest in wellness initiatives. Policymakers and nurse leaders are best suited to bring a positive change in this regard. However, doing so will require innovation and better decision making.