Improving Culture to Reduce Nurse Fatigue

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Even as the COVID-19 pandemic lessens, it continues to top Americans’ concerns. People feel safer in medical settings than in other public environments, and many are also pleased with alternative care models, like telehealth. But new challenges are emerging in the wake of the pandemic, most notably its impact on hospital staff. Only about three out of five healthcare workers are confident they will remain in the field, those leaving cite exhaustion as their reason to do so.

In a recent survey conducted by Jarrard, Inc., 15% of healthcare workers are unlikely to remain in their chosen field after living through this last year’s COVID-19 pandemic. Another 25% are only somewhat likely to do so. That is a shocking 40% of healthcare professionals uncertain of their future in the healthcare sector. The Joint Commission acknowledges nurse burnout as “among leading patient safety and quality concerns.” This, coupled with the ongoing nursing shortage can make it difficult to maintain a positive nursing culture.

You can improve your overall success as a healthcare provider by making an effort to keep nurses motivated and engaged. Here are a few steps can you take to maintain and improve the culture of your team:

  • Seek to understand your employees’ concerns. Offering multiple opportunities and channels for employees to express their feelings and provide feedback can give your organization ways to act on the feedback and offer transparent access to leadership to create a positive culture leading to less turnover.
  • Empathize. Nursing leaders know how tough it is to be a nurse on the floor; showing their nurses that they know and understand how tough it makes a huge impact.
  • Demonstrate the culture you want. Being a dynamic leader helps build and promote a culture needed to motivate staff, boost their engagement, and keep them aligned.
  • Improve flexibility. Some organizations have given nurses more autonomy by implementing nurse self-scheduling and implementing flexible shifts by also offering 8 and 10-hour shifts as studies have shown 12-hour shifts have been known to increase stress.
  • Provide positive feedback. Words are more powerful than many of us realize, especially in our workplaces. By offering your encouragement on a consistent basis, staff will know that you care, that you see the impact they make, and hopefully will stay optimistic.

Working with an external partner that specializes in using a strategy of finding an optimal mix of core staff, per diem staff, and contingent labor can also help your organization:

  • Alleviate gaps in staffing
  • Reduce administrative burdens on your Talent Acquisition or HR staff
  • Focus on internal culture and keeping staff morale high
  • Keep patient ratios within acceptable ranges

Nurses and other clinicians stood strong and helped stem the tide against the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward, leaders must consider what steps they can take to help provide relief to their workforce and support them with a healthy culture.

Courtney Dobernecker

Courtney has been in healthcare staffing for 10 years, starting her career as an Account Manager with Aureus Medical Group in the Nursing Division before joining the MSP team in 2014. Prior to her current role, Courtney was an Operations Consultant for FocusOne Solutions, serving as the lead point of contact for clients in developing the best strategy for staffing initiatives at her client facilities. In her current role, Courtney focuses on meeting the needs of MSP clients by offering customized Medical Solutions’ offerings while providing optimum service, support, and solutions. Courtney graduated with honors earning her BS in Sociology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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