How to Combat Key Stressors in Nursing | symplr (2024)

How to Combat Key Stressors in Nursing | symplr (1)

As someone who has dedicated her career to the nursing profession, I can affirm that the well-being of our healthcare staff directly impacts the quality of care we provide to our patients. Over the years, I've had the privilege of working alongside some of the most dedicated and compassionate individuals in the healthcare industry. But let's face it, the past few years have been tough. Our nurses are facing unprecedented levels of stress and burnout, and it's time we take action to support them in meaningful ways.

I want to share some practical strategies and insights that we've implemented at Advocate Health to make nursing a more sustainable and fulfilling profession. From providing access to mental health resources to listening and adapting to our staff's needs, these steps are more than just policies—they're about creating a culture of care and support.

Leveraging tech to minimize friction

One of the biggest stressors in nursing is the multitude of friction points we encounter daily. Sometimes these are very simple issues, but collectively, they add up and create significant stress. For instance, the number of repetitive tasks and computer clicks that nurses have to go through can be overwhelming and burn time day after day.

We decided to take a step back and really look at the work that needs to be done. Can some of these tasks be automated? Are there areas where we can reduce the number of steps required to complete a task? This approach has been transformative. By identifying tasks that can be automated, we lessen the load on nurse managers and clinical staff, allowing them to focus on patient care rather than administrative burdens.
Another challenge we've faced is the shift in work dynamics brought about by remote work. We've seen a lot of work being shifted from staff working remotely to those who are on-site, and this imbalance creates tremendous stress. Technology can help bridge this gap, but it's crucial to ensure that we thoughtfully integrate tech solutions to minimize these friction points.

The burnout epidemic: financial vs. human capital

symplr's 2023 Compass Survey revealed the perceptions of CIOs/IT leaders and clinical staff do not line up, which is no surprise, but the level of disconnect was significant. In 2022, the survey only considered IT leaders, and financial issues was the top threat, but in 2023, when the survey included clinical leaders as well, the biggest issue was burnout and turnover—basically, the "people stuff." Financial pressures was number two.

In reality, these issues are interconnected. If you have the right staff at the right time, your financial metrics, quality of care, and efficiency improve. However, if you lack the necessary human capital, everything suffers. And now, with burnout on the rise, many healthcare professionals are leaving. Nurses don't want to be glued to computers, and physicians are tired of spending most of their time in medical records. They want to be with patients, providing care.

This is a real challenge as time goes on. We need to look at the silos within our healthcare systems and find ways to get people to communicate more effectively. Listening to the users—our frontline staff—is crucial. We need to understand their needs and involve them in designing better products and processes. This will help reduce burnout and improve overall job satisfaction.

Steps to mitigate stress in nursing

1. Automate repetitive tasks

By leveraging technology to automate routine and repetitive tasks, we free up our nurses and providers to focus on what truly matters: patient care.

2. Improve communication channels

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a well-functioning healthcare system. Bridging the gap between these different perspectives we know exist help get IT, administration, and clinical staff on the same page. Regular meetings and feedback loops can foster a culture of collaboration and mutual understanding.

3. Provide access to mental health resources

Supporting the mental health of our healthcare staff is more critical than ever. Providing access to counseling services, stress management workshops, and mental health days can make a significant difference in combating burnout.

4. Flexible scheduling

Offering flexible scheduling options can help balance the workloads between remote and on-site staff. Flexibility can alleviate stress and improve job satisfaction, leading to better retention rates. At Advocate Health, flexible scheduling has been particularly effective in retaining seasoned nurses, thus helping to avoid staff shortages and burnout. It’s a win-win as they’re able to continue contributing their invaluable expertise while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

5. Continuous training and development

Investing in continuous training and professional development ensures that our staff feels competent and confident in their roles. It also helps them stay updated with the latest advancements in healthcare technology and best practices.

6. Listen and adapt

Most importantly, we need to listen to our staff and adapt to their needs. Regular surveys, suggestion boxes, and open-door policies can provide valuable insights into the challenges they face. Acting on this feedback shows that we value their input and are committed to making positive changes.

Let’s build a healthier tomorrow

As we navigate the changes in healthcare, it's essential to remember that the key to overcoming the stressors in nursing lies in collaboration, communication, and a commitment to continuous improvement. If we address the friction points, improve work dynamics, and foster a supportive environment, we can create a more sustainable and fulfilling work experience for our nursing staff.

How to Combat Key Stressors in Nursing | symplr (2)

How to Combat Key Stressors in Nursing | symplr (2024)

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