1. Lussier, Krista Gregoria RN, MSN

Article Content

Imagine a recent nurse graduate embarking on a new career in a Level I trauma hospital. He or she is taken from an academic environment and placed in surroundings that include critically ill patients, many terminal. Grieving and sometimes hostile family members are nearby. There's a scarcity of fellow workers to aid and assist when many patients are in need of care simultaneously. Sometimes the patients are combative. The environment has an air of potential looming legal liability.


Preventing flare-ups

Burnout is a serious issue and must be addressed with a hands-on, aggressive approach. As a nurse manager, you can serve as an opportunity or a barrier. In the field, develop a rapport with your recruits to share experiences, motivate, and lead. Get to know your staff nurses by exploring their likes and dislikes. This familiarity will help you identify and diffuse the burnout cycle before it's too late.


Another way to reduce the potential for burnout is to ensure that staff members are placed appropriately according to their skills, strengths, and preferences. Assure employees that their happiness is a priority to you, as their manager. Showing that efforts are being made to accommodate them can go a long way with job satisfaction and potential retention.


Offering an adequate incentive program to your staff can be another measure taken. Your patients are your customers, but so are your nurses. Competitive salaries only partly contribute to the solution. Remember that nurses also need personal time off, holidays, insurance benefits, and flexible scheduling. Don't think of these elements as a luxury but as a necessity.


Emotional support is vital, as well. Take the time to talk to staff members individually about their concerns. Make your employees feel comfortable about coming to you with problems or grievances. Have an open-door policy. Offer support groups or hold group meetings if they will reduce workplace stress. Ensure that the staff is kept abreast of new information or changes that will be occurring. Informed employees are less anxious and hopefully more satisfied.


Extinguishing negativity

A negative work place is like lighter fluid. Diffuse negative interactions between staff members immediately. Emphasize that there's always room for compromise; highlight the importance of teamwork. Offer opportunities to work as a group, and become a part of the group tasks when needed. Also, let your employees know that you appreciate all they do, and remind them that they're an invaluable asset to the team. Arrange for group outings or potlucks. Encourage and promote group support and socialization. As they say, a team that plays together stays together.


Burnout can also be overcome by encouraging nurses to be autonomous. Offer them control and independence within their workplace environment. Provide backing and support for your nurses; it's vital that your staff members feel they have an advocate, a voice that will allow them to be heard and will speak on their behalf within the hierarchy of an administration or corporation. In addition, assist with growth and advancement opportunities by offering continuing education, staff development, and recognition.


In the most developed country in the world, it's alarming that the focus appears to be on how nursing will be able to survive, not thrive. An introspective inquiry and study should be performed in each setting of nursing so that hospitals, nursing homes, private practitioners, etc., may properly stimulate their nursing labor force in order to perform at its optimal level and prevent burnout. A waning interest in the field may decrease the quality of life for millions of Americans.