Healthcare providers are essential workers in the job market. However, there is a constantly growing demand for the healthcare practitioner, and nurses in particular. The shortage of nurses has been an issue in the United States and in the world, especially amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to Haryanto (2019), 1.2 million new registered nurses (RNs) will be needed by 2030 to address the current shortage. There are a variety of complex causes, which led to this situation. long hours, make life-altering decisions, which in conclusion leads to burnout, decreases the retention of experienced workers and makes it less attractive to the future generation of nurses. The continuous nature of this issue creates a cycle, which needs to be changed. Hence, the paper proposes a way of resolving the problem by adjusting the healthcare system to minimize the adverse factors associated with work, such as burnout.
The nursing shortage has various effects on nurses as well as patients. Due to a lack of staff, healthcare providers have to face a heavy workload. This results in less time for operations, which causes bypassing safety protocols and incomplete communication (Haddad, Annamaraju, & Toney-Butler, 2020). For patients, this means that treatment will continue longer than expected. Moreover, nurses pay less attention to details that lead to mistakes and brain-strain that could potentially lead to over- or under-medication (Spurlock, 2019). Excessive stress exposure leads to reduced job performance and a greater risk of medical errors (Marć et al., 2019). Finally, nurses seek more shortcuts, which leads to compromised quality of patient care, higher risks of infections, and compromised data security.
Any professional activity requires working under pressure, which in the long term, if not managed properly, can lead to burnout. World Health Organization defines professional emotional burnout as a syndrome characterized by the lack of energy and emotional involvement, which results in reduced productivity and negative thoughts. Moreover, the condition is classified as a mental disorder, which can only be applied to one’s occupation. However, balancing the needs of healthcare workers with the needs of patients is challenging because it is hard to forecast the amount of work that nurses should do.
There are several self-care strategies proven effective in the prevention of occupational burnout. Hence, the administration of a healthcare organization should initiate and encourage programs aimed at caring for the mental health of its workers (Dall’Ora, Ball, Reinius, & Griffiths, 2020). First of all, the work-life balance of a nurse should be ensured by avoiding working long hours in the schedule. Having enough sleep is essential for nurses as it does not only prevent them from burnout but decreases medical errors, which enhances the quality of healthcare (Dyrbye, Satele & Shanafelt, 2017). Technology can also contribute to the reduction of long-hour work for nurses. As such, a trend of telehealth can offer flexibility and creative solutions to workflow management in hospitals (Spurlock, 2020). Secondly, mental health surveys should be put in place, so the warning signs of burnout can be tracked, and necessary measures are enacted on time to avoid burnout (Hoseini-Esfidarjani & Negarandeh, 2017). Finally, creating a healthy work environment where a nurse can ask colleagues for help is also essential to minimizing the likelihood of burnout.
The nursing shortage is an issue of extreme importance, and there the resolution of that problem should involve multiple strategies. One of them is by reducing stress and burnout. There are various ways, which can be applied to lower the risks of burnout. Combining those strategies allows for more effective prevention. Tracking the workload of nurses to avoid long hours, ensuring they have enough sleep, and having a healthy workplace environment, which could offer help when needed, are the strategies offered in this paper. In addition, it is important that the strategies are easy to implement into one’s lifestyle and schedule, so they are natural.
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