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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    How task-related nursing has led to nurse burnout

    In the hustling halls of hospitals and the quiet havens of clinics, nurses are the backbone of healthcare systems worldwide. They are compassionate caregivers who work tirelessly to heal, comfort and support patients during their most vulnerable moments. However, behind the scenes of this self-sacrificing profession lies a growing crisis: task-related nurse burnout.

    Nurse burnout is a form of ongoing workplace stress that is unrelieved and emotionally taxing. Burnout is not a new concept, but its prevalence and impact have reached alarming levels in recent years. Task-related burnout results from nurses overwhelmed by an ever-expanding list of responsibilities, often with inadequate resources and support.

    From administering medications to performing assessments, coordinating care, comforting patients and the boundless charting requirements, the demands placed on nurses are seemingly endless. The consequences of task-related burnout extend beyond the individual nurse; they permeate the entire healthcare system. Burnout leads to increased rates of medical errors, decreased patient satisfaction and higher turnover rates among nursing staff.

    Ultimately, it jeopardizes the quality of care provided to patients and undermines the effectiveness of healthcare delivery. It is time for hospital administrators and policymakers to focus on providing adequate resources to allow quality patient care while preserving the mental and physical health of nurses, who are the foundation of patient care.

    The compassion fatigue that nurses experience is a driving factor of burnout and patient satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Patients and nurses need one-on-one time to build a nurse-patient relationship; the burdensome tasks nurses face day in and day out often prevent this.

    Another factor of task-related nurse burnout is understaffing. As healthcare facilities face budget constraints and financial pressures, staffing levels are often kept at a bare minimum. This leaves nurses stretched thin, forced to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously, sacrificing the quality of care in the process. It's a vicious cycle: as burnout drives experienced nurses out of the profession, the remaining staff shoulder an even heavier workload. It is the patient who suffers the consequences of having overworked nurses. Although providing additional staff is costly, it would positively affect patient satisfaction which is at the forefront of hospital administrators’ decision-making.

    Additionally, the administrative burden placed on nurses exacerbates the issue. Increasingly complex documentation requirements, regulatory mandates and administrative tasks consume valuable time and energy that could be spent on direct patient care. Nurses find themselves drowning in documentation and struggling to keep up with the requirements while simultaneously attending to the needs of their patients. Furthermore, the emotional toll of nursing cannot be overlooked. Nurses are often exposed to high-stress situations, traumatic events and emotional distress. Nurses are constantly facing patient suffering and loss, and they have no time to process these situations before the next task presents itself.

    Addressing task-related nurse burnout requires a multifaceted approach that addresses systemic issues within the healthcare system and supports individual nurses. The call to action is to healthcare administrators and policymakers who must advocate for policies that promote nurse well-being, job satisfaction and patient safety. At the organizational level, healthcare facilities must prioritize adequate staffing levels and workload management. This may require reallocating resources, investing in additional staff or implementing innovative solutions such as improving and enhancing of workflows to streamline processes and reduce administrative burden on a technological and real-time level. This includes advocating for and ensuring adequate breaks, flexible scheduling options, and resources for continuing education and professional development.

    Additionally, initiatives to foster a culture of appreciation and recognition for nurses' contributions can go a long way in boosting morale and reducing burnout. Administrators need to prioritize the well-being of nurses and ensure that they have the support and resources they need to thrive in their roles to ensure quality care, improved patient outcomes and job satisfaction.

    By addressing the root causes of burnout and fostering a culture of support and appreciation, we can build a healthier, more resilient healthcare system for both nurses and patients, increasing everyone’s satisfaction immensely.

    Arianna Turello is a nurse at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. She lives in Waterford.

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