Promoting Nursing Wellness
As nurses take on more of the responsibilities of physicians, they also become more susceptible to the same perils as doctors – in particular the dangers of burnout.
According to data provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S will be short nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032, up to 55,000 of those from primary care.1Increasingly, nurses are being asked to fill the void created by this growing gap. This may be a viable solution to the impending physician shortage since many of the tasks of primary care delivery do not require the skills of a doctor and can be ably handled by nurses.
However, there is also an impending nursing shortage on the horizon. The nursing workforce totals more than 3 million, making up the largest segment of healthcare workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will open by 2022.2
Ninety-two percent of nurses are currently dissatisfied with their hospital’s EHR….Most nurses said their hospitals’ EHR systems contributed to lower productivity and workflow disruptions affecting the quality of patient care.
As nurses take on more of the responsibilities of physicians, they also become more susceptible to the same perils as doctors – in particular the dangers of burnout. A survey from RNnetwork revealed that half of the responding nurses have considered leaving the profession.3 One of the key causes of burnout in doctors is also affecting nurses – the stress of dealing with EMRs/EHRs.
In many cases, nurses deal with the demands of EMRs even more than physicians, leading to higher degrees of stress and frustration. A survey of advanced practice registered nurses revealed that nearly 20 percent of respondents had at least one symptom of burnout. More than half agreed or strongly agreed that an EHR added to daily frustration – a proven predictor of burnout.4
The costs of nurse turnover
The physical and mental stress inherent in the nursing profession is significant. Providing patient care, reassuring the patient’s family, and striving to stay up to date with the newest training and innovations can take a significant toll on nurses.
Overall nurse turnover rose from 11.2 percent in 2011 to 17.2 percent in 2015. Bedside nurse turnover rates nearly doubled in the same five-year period from 8.7 percent to 15.8 percent. Emergency medicine and surgery nurse turnover rates are rising, with behavioral health nurses seeing the highest turnover rate at 26.5 percent.5
The costs of nurse turnover can seriously impact the bottom line of a healthcare organization. One report pegs the average cost of replacing a nurse from between $37,700 to $58,499. Hospitals can lose $5.2 million to $8.2 million annually from nurse turnover.6
Over the last 10 to 15 years, the number of nurses experiencing burnout has risen. The introduction of new technology and electronic medical records and documentation has added more pressure to an already stressful occupation.
Physical demands of nursing
Providing care for patients can be physically taxing. Many nurses walk more than eight miles a day working 10-12 hours shifts. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) account for one third of all reported occupational injuries followed in number by back, leg and foot fatigue.7 Nurses suffer more than 35,000 injuries involving hands, back, shoulders, and feet annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.8
To do their jobs well, nurses need to have physical strength, the ability to move around freely, and the ability to see, hear and communicate well with patients.
Designing workstations to minimize stress
A recent article in Healthcare Facilities Today suggested that the layout and design of nursing staff workstations have a significant impact on productivity and job satisfaction of nurses. All clinicians work differently so work areas should include both centralized and decentralized staff stations. The critical point is that designers should observe clinicians in action in order to better understand staff needs and incorporate those needs into innovative, functional design.9
Implementing ergonomic workstations for nurses can help reduce injuries, minimize turnover, and increase patient safety. An effective ergonomic workspace should incorporate five key components: adjustable task chair, adjustable work surface, adjustable monitor arm, articulating keyboard/mouse support, and user-controlled task lighting.10
StableRise® has been installed in medical centers across the U.S. and provides the properly designed workstation support critical to providers. StableRise equipment is easier to use and adjust than wall-tracks, thus ensuring optimum ergonomics. Ensuring a comfortable working environment enables nurses to focus on providing patient care and, over the long term, can help promote nurse wellness and reduce the physical stress that contributes to long-term nurse burnout.
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- New Findings Confirm Predictions on Physician Shortage, AAMC News Press Release, April 23, 2019
- Survey Finds Nearly Half of Nurses Considering Leaving the Profession, RNnetwork blog, February 28, 2017
- Estimating the association between burnout and electronic health record-related stress among advanced practice registered nurses, by DA Harris, J. Haskell, E. Cooper, N. Course, R. Gardner, Applied Nursing Research, October 2018.
- 2016 National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report, NSI Nursing Solutions, 2016
- Improving Nurse Wellness in Healthcare Design Focus of Recent Ecore, NIHD Meeting, Healthcare Facilities Today, June 7, 2018.
- 5 of the biggest issues nurses face today, by Kelly Gooch, Becker’s Hospital Review, August 13, 2015
- Design considerations by a nurse/interior designer for healthcare facilities, by Whitney Hendrickson, Healthcare Facilities Today, August 9, 2019
- Ergonomics and the Digital Healthcare Facility, by Dan Cannnon, Alimed, February 2011