Giving nurses time to connect with why they chose to be nurses can stop burnout before it begins.
Burnout is more than just being overworked. It's a response to chronic workplace stressors that leaves workers experiencing one or more of the following components: emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.
Unfortunately, nurses often experience higher rates of burnout than other healthcare workers.
A 2011 study by nurse researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found that 34% of nurses scored higher than the average for healthcare workers on the Maslach Burnout Inventory emotional exhaustion subscale.
But Page West, RN, MHA, MPA, senior vice president and chief nursing executive at Dignity Health is working to change that by helping the organization's nurses cultivate resilience.
"I look at resilience as the prevention of burnout. If we focus on resilience and figuring out what is that magic piece of work that allows nurses or providers to keep in touch with their heart and soul, then we don't reach the burnout phase," West says.
"It's the antidote really, if you will, for burnout."
Time to Reconnect
Most nurses go into nursing because they want to make a difference in people's lives. But that goal can get lost among the intensity and chaos of a typical day.
It's for this reason that West advocates for building in time for nurses to reconnect with the reasons they went into the profession in the first place.
"We need to continue to build processes and time into the work day for the nurses to be able to connect their heart and their mind. To allow them to have some moments for reflective pause that get them through the day rather than just having to do task after task after task," she says.
For example, at Dignity there is time built into the end of a code blue for nurses to pause and reflect on the life that was lost.
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.