Stress manifests among nurses in various forms and can affect patient outcomes. Fortunately, leaders can implement solutions to help reduce this pervasive problem.
Being a nurse can be fulfilling and rewarding. We get the privilege of helping new lives enter the world, comforting those who are exiting this world, and everything in between. Yet nursing is also taxing and draining at times. Off-shifts (nights and weekends), hectic workloads, violence from patients and families, and incivility among staff members can all cause physical and emotional wear and tear among nurses.
Unfortunately, issues like depression, burnout, and fatigue are extremely prevalent among nurses. As my fellow editor Alexandra Wilson Pecci writes in a recent article, one 2016 study found that nurses experience depression at twice the rate of those in other professions.
This is not just bad for nurses but bad for patients as well. Another study Pecci highlights found a link between nurses reporting poor health, particularly depression, and higher rates of reported medical errors.
That’s a serious issue and one that certainly needs to be addressed.
Some recent HealthLeaders articles offer solutions to address stress among RNs.
There’s a common belief that burnout is a personal failing and that resolving dimensions of burnout—emotional exhaustion, cynicism, inefficacy—are that individual’s responsibility. Eat a salad, go for a walk, take a yoga class and you’ll be fine. Rather, burnout is a sign something is amiss within an organization, and healthcare leaders need to uncover both the prevalence of burnout at their organizations as well as its root causes.
"There needs be a framework to understand where the pain points are, and then how an organization can do something about that," says Karen Weiner, MD, MMM, CPE, chief medical officer and CEO at Oregon Medical Group, a physician-owned, primary care–based multispecialty group of about 140 healthcare providers, with offices in the Eugene and Springfield area.
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.