How Healthcare Providers Respond to Nurse Burnout
In a recent literature review for Nursing Management1, researchers found that building nurse resilience is increasingly needed in response to stress and nurse burnout. During an Advisory Board webinar hosted by LiveProcess, “Build Resilience and Reduce Nurse Burnout,” we asked attendees about nurse burnout at their facilities: how they assess nurse burnout, what their primary nursing concerns are, how they address nurse safety, and how they combat feelings of isolation among nurses.
How to evaluate nurse burnout
A majority of respondents, 67 percent, said that they were tracking a variety of factors to evaluate nurse burnout. Three factors—absenteeism, turnover, and engagement—were cited by more than half of respondents (56 percent for each).
Tracking those factors makes sense given the Advisory Board’s findings2 about the high cost of nursing burnout. Difficulty keeping up with patient care, absenteeism and quitting entirely are common results of nurse burnout with serious price tags:
- $768 per hospital-acquired infections, linked to nurse burnout
- $1,685 per employee per year for absenteeism
- $90,000 per registered nurse (RN) departure
Spread across time, hospitals and health systems, these costs mount quickly, making a strong case for intervention before nurse burnout becomes severe.
Top nursing concerns
When asked to choose the top nursing concern in their facility or health system, respondents most often chose either violence and safety (38 percent) or compromises in care (38 percent). These results match the Advisory Board’s observation that safety threats and perceptions of unsafe staffing levels are two of the primary cracks in the foundation of many care environments.
Notably, these concerns relate to the need for nurses to feel supported in dealing with patient care challenges. From aggressive visitors to behavioral health needs to patient care delays, nurses feel they lack adequate support to prevent the escalation of a problem. Making it easier for nurses to connect quickly‚ and to receive a fast response, mitigates the feeling of being unsupported.
How to improve nurse safety
Respondents to our webinar poll reported taking a variety of actions to improve nurse safety at their facilities. The most common intervention was providing escalation training for frontline staff, a step taken by 80 percent. In its study of resilience, the Advisory Board found this to be a high-value action, with low training costs easily compensated for by a reduced risk of costly lawsuits and nurse injuries.
Other steps taken by webinar attendees include adding more security patrols or rounding (40 percent), instituting behavioral health response teams (30 percent) and adding metal detectors or other physical deterrents (20 percent). A multi-pronged approach helps cover multiple scenarios and improve staff perception of safety.
One hospital interviewed by the Advisory Board used similar tactics with promising results: they increased confidence in support for workplace safety by 35 percent in just one year, and increased confidence in the availability of security by 38 percent in the same time period.
Making connections to combat nurse isolation
Isolation may seem like a far-fetched possibility for busy nurses surrounded by colleagues and interacting with multiple patients. However, many factors of modern healthcare can contribute to feelings of isolation, even if those factors benefit care delivery overall. Decentralized nursing stations, private patient rooms and point-of-care documentation can keep a nurse separated from peers.
Respondents to our poll use a variety of means to connect nurses to each other, and to their core values, through sharing personal stories. Department meetings and townhalls were used by 80 percent. Other common methods include newsletters and emails (50 percent), bulletin boards (30 percent) and social media (20 percent). A significant number of respondents (40 percent) said they used other unspecified strategies for storytelling, which reflect the variety of options that could be suited to individual facilities.
Better healthcare team communication technology
LiveProcess healthcare team communication technology allows facilities to address several of the challenges identified by the Advisory Board. For example:
- Structuring communication to accelerate response to workplace violence
- Streamlining last-minute staffing adjustments to ensure appropriate staff levels and skill mix
- Eliminating toil through situational awareness and enhanced collaboration
- Implementing best practices to ensure tools connect healthcare providers to resources and each other
Watch the webinar, How to Build Resilience and Reduce Nurse Burnout.
Read more blog posts in this series on building nursing resilience and reducing nurse burnout:
- Nurses Are Already Resilient: What Hospitals Can Do to Help
- Nursing Resilience and Workplace Safety: Addressing Root Problems in Healthcare
- More FTEs May Not Solve Your Staffing Stress, but Better Communication Could
- 5 Ways Healthcare Communication Technology Fosters Staff Connections
- Nursing Communication Tools: 5 Benefits of Smartphones
Read how healthcare team communication tools can reduce nurse burnout in this blog post.
Visit our Clinical Communication and Collaboration Resource Center for more articles and case studies.
- Kelly Kester and Holly Wei, “Building Nurse Resilience,” Nursing Management (June 2018): 42-45.
- The Advisory Board, Nursing Executive Center, “Rebuild the Foundation for a Resilient Workforce,” 2018.