Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion due to excessive and prolonged stress. And it is specially common in the healthcare community. It manifests as emotional exhaustion and depersonalization to the point of wanting to give up. According to a 2017 survey, 85% of the nurses are generally fatigued due to their jobs, while 63% have experienced burnout.
Why are nurses important?
Nurses are very important for efficiency and high morale in the hospital. The entire hospital staff is important but nurses play an important role in the healthcare community. They are the first ones in the hospital setting to evaluate the patients and the only ones who are with the patients for the majority of their stay in the hospital.
Nurses take on a lot for the sake of their patients and help fulfill every need of their patients to make their stay in the hospital more comfortable. But what about them? Taking care of sick people with little breaks can be emotionally and physically draining.
What does statistical analysis say?
According to a recent study conducted by Dr. Annamaria Bagnasco of the University of Genoa, Italy, and presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, researchers surveyed and analyzed nurses on the pediatric cardiology floors. The reason behind choosing that sub-specialty was the conclusions they had derived from earlier studies stating that pediatric nurses experienced the most severe burnout.
Method of the study
They sent out the survey to the 2,769 nurses providing daily care to their patients in hospitals throughout Italy. However only nurses working on the pediatric cardiology floor, ICU nurses, and some hospital administration were focused on. The study was conducted between September 2017 and January 2018 in major children’s hospitals in Italy.
For their study, Dr. Bagnasco and her team analyzed the filled out form using 4 important criteria; workload, skill mix, work environment, and emotional exhaustion the staff suffers from.
Each criterion was explained by the researchers, with the workload being the amount of work one nurse has to do, skill mix being the combination of employees with different skills at one post, and work environment being the social and physical conditions for the nurses to work in, such as the presence of a supervisor or representative and opportunities to recommend and participate in policy changes and the making of new policies. The work environment was measured using the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index (PES-NWI).
Result of the study
Out of the 2,769 nurses that received the survey, 2,205 filled it out. As only 85 out of these nurses were in the subspeciality chosen by the researchers, only they were focused on during the analysis.
Researchers found 58% of these nurses to be emotionally exhausted and 30% were at the end of their burnout and wanted to either quit their jobs or quit their careers entirely. According to the nurses, the emotional exhaustion stemmed from the increased workload and the emotional toll of taking care of sick children every day.
Researchers recommended the bettering of the work environment and decreasing workload on these nurses could positively affect the burnout and the overwhelmed feeling the nurses’ experience. They concluded that even if the patient load was the same and the mix of skilled professionals was not changed but just the working environment was changed for the nurses, it could result in an 81% decrease in the emotional exhaustion experienced by the nurses.