Effective Strategies To Combat Nurse Burnout

Effective Strategies To Combat Nurse Burnout

Effective Strategies To Combat Nurse Burnout and Moral Injury

Have you ever experienced an overwhelming amount of stress or exhaustion from work? You wouldn’t be the only one. These extreme feelings are often referred to as burnout, which is categorized by a decrease in emotional, physical, and psychological energy resulting from work-related stress. This is a problem employees face in all industries but is particularly trying for those in demanding professions such as healthcare.

How can you tell if an employee is suffering from burnout or moral injury instead of just normal levels of work-related stress? Researchers have indicated that there are three primary aspects of burnout in employees.

#1.  Emotional Exhaustion

Emotional exhaustion results from the feelings of immense stress and pressure on employees that leave them feeling emotionally and physically spent by the time they’ve finished their shift.

#2.  Depersonalization

Emotional exhaustion goes hand in hand with another aspect of burnout, depersonalization. This type of detachment reduces the amount of empathy an employee is able to expend toward the people they work with and for. In the healthcare industry, this can raise questions regarding the quality of care that nurses are able to provide when they’re experiencing burnout.

#3.  Feelings Of Low Accomplishment

The final aspect of burnout is described as a feeling of low accomplishment. Employees may feel worthless despite their established skills and contribute less toward the responsibilities of their position. This can have some serious implications in the case of nurses and other healthcare professionals.

For as common as burnout and moral injury is in the healthcare industry, not many organizations feel they have a good grasp on programs to address these issues. Below are a few strategies that would serve as effective tools for combating nurse burnout.

  • Creation and Implementation of Wellness Programs: programs designed to educate nurses on stress reduction and wellness strategies are a great start. These programs would provide methods that can be incorporated in their days to maintain stress levels.
  • Healthy Work Environments: providing nurses with an environment where they’re respected and able to communicate about their issues openly has a positive effect on their performance and stress levels.
  • Incorporation of Scheduling Software: integrated scheduling tools that provide clear information for nurses allows for a higher quality of care for patients.
  • Establishing Healthy Habits: though it may seem cliché, the basics are often the most important. A nutritious diet, a full night’s sleep, and exercise go a long way in terms of positive mental health.
  • Management Involvement: for the management staff, allowing nurses to bring attention to workplace issues with confidence and establishing an open dialogue will allow for a greater understanding of the employees and how they respond to stress.

For more information on how burnout affects the healthcare industry and nurses, as well as strategies to combat this burnout, be sure to review the accompanying infographic courtesy of ScheduleAnywhere.

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Online Nursing School Tips For Success!

Online Nursing School Tips For Success!

Online Nursing School Tips For Success

Congratulations on starting your online nursing degree program! 

You can go back to school without sitting in a classroom, fighting traffic, or even finding a parking spot like you would at a brick-and-mortar university. Instead, you can go straight home after work, cook your family dinner, help your kids with homework, and then work on your studies when everyone is asleep.

Starting online nursing school is something to be proud of.  But in the back of your mind, you may be thinking, “Should I have waited until the pandemic is over?   Will I be too overwhelmed with online learning?”

nurses

Online nursing school is challenging no matter when you do it.  But you can still be successful, even during the pandemic.

Before addressing these concerns, see if one of the following four scenarios below mirrors your current lifestyle. 

Scenario 1: You come home from work after being exposed to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 patients. You have not eaten. You have not gone to the bathroom. You are going on zero sleep because your 6-month old was up all night long. You come home from work and immediately bombarded with the needs of your children. Your babysitter has left the house in disarray, and now your husband calls and says he has to work late. Your online program starts next week, and you think, how am I going to do this?

Scenario 2:  You are home-schooling your children and have a one-year-old who just learned to walk. You decide to get up early to get a head start on your work. You managed to get a couple of hours of work done until your 12-year old announces he needs help with an e-learning project that is due at 9:00 a.m. – the same time you have an important meeting. You sign in to Zoom, forget to mute, and the camera is on. You can be seen running after your diaperless 1-year old screaming in delight, thinking it’s playtime. The day is long and hard, with chores needing to be done, and your online program started today. 

Scenario 3:  You are now in the 3rd week of your online course. The COVID surge has hit your hospital hard, and you are working 60+ hours a week. You are already behind in two assignments and lagging in the discussions. You want to stay in class, but you also need to pay the bills and put food on the table. You need your degree to keep your job but don’t know what to do.  

Scenario 4:  You are working from home and get a call from the nursing home that your mother has taken a turn for the worst. You get in your car and receive a call that your 16-year old is COVID-positive and is coming home to quarantine. You haven’t seen your friends in ages and abandoned your own health care needs months ago. This whole pandemic has been very hard for you emotionally, and you don’t know how much more you can take. Your degree program is the LAST on your mind right now.

I’m sure many of you can relate to all or parts of these scenarios as you continue to ponder if online education is for you. You are not alone

online nursing school tips

Online Learning and Reflections on Your Experiences

Before you think that pursuing your online degree during the pandemic may not be a good option, consider this: Part of learning online is about reflecting upon your experiences as a professional nurse AND applying these experiences to assignments in your classes. If you wait until the pandemic is over, you might miss out on one of the best opportunities of your life for reflection, personal and professional growth.

In all universities, objectives and curricula are designed according to national standards, such as an online RN-BSN program. Curricula contain specific courses for the program and are further broken down into course content. 

Course content is typically divided into two main sections: discussions and assignments.  Students have an opportunity to reflect upon and apply their experiences to demonstrate how they have met the overall program and university objectives. Therefore, the experiences you have accumulated from working through this pandemic can help you succeed in meeting program and university objectives.

What Can I Do to Be Successful in the Online Setting?

Now that you’ve considered the scenarios outlined above, there are ways to overcome many of those hurdles. Whether you are thinking about going to school online or have already started your educational journey, here are online nursing school tips you can integrate into your lifestyle right now. 

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Online Nursing School Tips For Success:

Support is Key

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professors, advisors, and loved ones. Your school has many resources to help you, from time management strategies to writing resources.

It is important to learn about these resources right away. Find out who your advisor is and discuss any concerns you have. Communicate with your professor often. A simple email indicating that you need help, or keeping them informed about ongoing circumstances in your life, keeps the lines of communication open. You and your professor can come up with a plan for you to complete your work. Remember that they are nurses, too. They will understand.  

It is recommended you do not choose an online program that does not offer this type of comprehensive support.  

Create an Action Plan

Creating an action plan is vital. Why? Because you can see a snap-shot of all your roles and responsibilities from child care, employment, your study schedule, and more.

Your action plan can be just a simple sheet of paper or an elaborate spreadsheet with time-tables and prospective future endeavors. The best part of this action plan is that it is a working document.   You can add or delete from your list and find more time to do the things you need to do.  

Start a Reflective Journal

Many have reflected upon how their nursing roles have changed during the pandemic and pondered about where they see their professions headed in the future.

Reflection is essential in any nursing program because it allows you to apply your course content and develop new critical thinking skills in real-time.  The best thing about online learning at this time is that you can use your professional experiences to help you complete your class assignments and have insightful discussions in class.

Writing down your reflections can be as simple as jotting down your experiences on a notepad, phone, or computer. Some of my best reflections occurred while listening to relaxing music and admiring nature and photography. Perhaps this strategy can work for you as well. Even just 5 minutes a day can help you gather your thoughts during these uncertain times.

Engagement!

Many nurses have verbalized that they may not have enough engagement in an online program.  Not so!

Many online programs have innovative ways for professors and students to be engaged with one another, such as Zoom, Skype, Voki, and real-time audio and video. Most online nursing schools have discussion boards.   Aspen University, for example, has the Nurse Cafe — in which you engage with your peers and professors on a variety of topics. 

Online courses often have their own unique ways to encourage discussion and engagement.  One of the main benifits is that online discussions are mostly asynchronous, which means you can partake in discussions anytime during the week – 24/7! 

Practice Self-Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a great deal of stress, anxiety, and burnout for many of us. Self-care activities — like proper sleep, healthy diet, stretching, and other small changes to your daily routine — are so important as you treat patients and work your way through your online degree program. 

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Don’t Ever Lose Sight of your Determination and Passion!

This is true not only in nursing but also in life. The nursing courses you will be taking may ask you to focus on a topic you are passionate about – perhaps you discover that you have a great interest in developing evidence-based policy/procedures for addressing future pandemics. Whatever your passion is, make sure that you hold it close to your heart and remain determined to reach all of your dreams and goals. 

But most importantly, remember this as you continue to ponder your future in higher learning through an online setting:

Passion and determination make up the core of our aspirations, and higher learning sets the stage to help you showcase your dreams.

About The Author

Dr. Linda Marcuccilli is a professor of nursing at Aspen University and a registered nurse for 33 years. She developed a research program involving persons with implantable ventricular devices, published her research in several peer-reviewed nursing journals, and presented her research across the nation.  

Dr. Marcuccilli is the author of the book The Journey Through Graduate School:  Flourish and Be Happy and her blog Inspiring Learners: Find the Passion Within.

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What You Should Know Before Going into Nursing

What You Should Know Before Going into Nursing

If you’re on this site, you’re either a nurse or have a strong interest in nursing. And I’m sure that if the former group had the chance to sit down with the latter, they would have a lot to say. We all remember those exciting, terrifying early days of nursing school and wanting to make the world a better place; there’s plenty we’d want to say to our younger selves. We can’t go back in time and talk to ourselves, but we can share with you what you should know before going into nursing.

What You Should Know Before Going Into Nursing

There is a lot of career diversity

When you first set your mind to becoming a nurse, what did you imagine? Scrubs, a stethoscope, and patients in a hospital or general practice? What many new nursing students don’t realize is there are a variety of careers under the umbrella of “nurse.” A few you can choose without any additional degrees are:

  • Surgical nurse
  • Geriatric nurse
  • Cardiac nurse
  • Nursing Midwife
  • Nursing Administrator

Knowing this before going into nursing will give you more time to consider what areas of medicine you’re most interested in so you can make the career choice best suited for you.

Additional recommended reading:  Is Nursing A Good Career For Moms?

You will make a positive difference in the lives of thousands

Unfortunately, there’s a long-standing stereotype of nurses being something of a sidekick who takes orders from a doctor. In reality, nurses are often the ones with their feet on the ground, taking care of their patients’ immediate needs. If you’re in settings such as the ICU or the ER, you could be the one to make the vital choices that’ll keep a patient in stable condition or save their life. You’ll need knowledge and confidence to make those calls.

This idea may sit like a weight on you at times, and that may even become overwhelming. We can take the classes, we can learn how to change IV tubing or take vitals, but learning how to walk around with the weight of patients’ lives on our shoulders without buckling is another thing entirely. But even if some days are harder than others, let me tell you a secret: you can do it!

It will be your responsibility to find balance

As important as understanding the weight of your position is, it’s also important to know when to lay that weight down. Putting too much pressure on yourself can lead to burnout and compassion fatigue. Try to set up healthy emotional boundaries even as you seek to be empathetic to patients.

It’s also important to find ways to leave the pressures of work at work and find people and activities that build you back up after long, exhausting shifts. Keep in mind, as much as it’s valuable for you to build confidence in decision making, you’ll always have a team on your side when you need help.

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Self-Care Tips for Nurses Who Stand All Day at Work

Self-Care Tips for Nurses Who Stand All Day at Work

There isn’t much time to relax when you work as a nurse, especially during the middle of a pandemic. Too much time standing takes a bigger toll on our bodies than we may believe, even if we’re not lifting heavy objects or doing vigorous exercise. The physical pain of your regular workday builds up and can affect your mood if you don’t take care of yourself regularly.

Before you hurt yourself or break down, take time to practice these self-care tips for nurses who stand all day at work.

Practice relaxation right after work

Once you leave work, you are absolutely done working. This statement might seem redundant—but I promise that it makes sense if you’re the type who can’t look away from work even when you’re at home. There are some times, especially now, when you need to have your work phone at the ready in case you get called in, but on days when you aren’t on call, it’s time to set the phone down and breathe. You deserve a break from both standing and working. Whether you decide to relax by taking a bubble bath or lounging on the sofa with your family’s favorite TV show is up to you.

Additional recommended reading9 Tips To Relieve Foot Pain From Standing All Day

Schedule chiropractor appointments

Sometimes, the tension we acquire from standing at work all day is more than a little at-home self-care can handle. A chiropractor is perfect for relieving back pain caused by standing and even preventing injuries related to tense muscles. If you’re a new mother or a soon-to-be-mother, chiropractors are capable of relieving back and pelvic pains related to your pregnancy as well. Trusting a chiropractor to take care of you can be difficult, but if you look for a chiropractor with trustworthy qualities and certifications, it will be worth every penny.

Purchase specialized clothing

Even though we have strict dress codes as nurses, that doesn’t mean we have to settle for shoes that fail our feet and lack support for our backs. A good pair of shoes is worth the investment and will save your back while you work. If you need extra support on the floor, consider purchasing a knee brace or compression socks or stockings.

As a nurse and a mother, it can be easy to forget that, in addition to taking care of others at work and home, we need to take care of ourselves, too. With these self-care tips for nurses who stand all day at work, you can re-energize yourself after a long shift at work and prepare yourself for the next day.

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The Perks of Becoming a Travel Nurse

The Perks of Becoming a Travel Nurse

The Perks of Becoming a Travel Nurse

*Written by Sarah Darren

Nursing is always a solid career path for people who have compassion for others and a desire to make a difference in the world. For some, it is a calling, but others get into the field of nursing because it offers a stable and fulfilling career path with lots of interesting opportunities. 

This is a fantastic time to begin training as a nurse, simply because the need has never been greater. Not only are people living longer than they used to and requiring more care, but many healthcare organizations are already having staffing issues. This is expanding an exciting opportunity for those interested in travel nursing. 

There are many perks to becoming a travel nurse!

What Exactly is a Travel Nurse?

Most nurses work for a specific hospital, school, assisted living facility, or other organization. They are traditionally employed and typically know what to expect regarding the work environment and their colleagues. 

On the other hand, travel nurses are temporary staff for hospitals and healthcare facilities all over the country. They take on new assignments every few months (typically in 13-week blocks) and work in hospitals experiencing temporary personnel shortages or a higher-than-expected influx of patients. With shifts occurring in the healthcare industry, the demand is only growing for travel nurses. 

Besides traveling around the country and working in different hospitals, travel nurses have the same responsibilities as permanent nurses. They care for patients and take on miscellaneous tasks to help hospitals run. Travel nurses have to adapt to enter a new work environment every few months, but there are several significant perks to being a travel nurse.  

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Enjoy a Great Salary & Benefits

One of the best perks of becoming a travel nurse is the pay.  Travel nurses generally get new assignments through a nurse contracting firm. This means that they enjoy a great salary from their contracts while also receiving benefits from their contracting firm. 

In general, traveling nurses can expect to make around $65,000-90,000 annually, depending on their work and assignment. In addition to this salary, travel nurses might get allowances for temporary housing and living expenses, retirement contributions, health insurance, and even travel reimbursements. 

Although travel nursing might not sound as stable as traditional nursing jobs, the truth is that the work is usually plentiful enough for nurses to make a great living on the road. The benefits can be as good or better than those from a permanent post. 

Expand Your Personal & Professional Experience

Perks of becoming a travel nurse include: expanding your skills, living in new cities, and learning more money!

Working in one geographic area can provide comfort and stability, but it might not offer you new challenges or the opportunity to expand your skillset and experience. Nurses who don’t have the opportunity to work in a diverse healthcare environment might miss out on fulfilling experiences and the ability to build a more impressive resume. 

Travel nurses get the chance to experience different environments and meet people from all walks of life. Not only does this provide professional benefits, but it also helps nurses grow personally. Working in different types of hospitals is a great way to expand your perspective and develop your communication skills and cultural competency. 

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Looking for a Bit More Freedom? Travel Nursing Could be for You!

Nursing jobs are usually quite stable but can also be rigid when it comes to scheduling and time off. If you’re looking for a little more freedom and flexibility, then travel nursing could be a great solution. Although it would impact your paycheck to pass up a contract, travel nursing gives you the option of taking time off if you need to attend to personal business or just take a long vacation. 

You have a lot more control over your schedule and your life as a traveling nurse. You’ll be living in new places and embarking on new adventures every few months, but you also have the freedom to say no to jobs that don’t suit you. 

Travel nursing is rarely boring and can be deeply satisfying. If you get “itchy feet” and don’t like the idea of spending the next 40 years working in the same hospital in the same town, why not consider taking your career on the road?

If you dream of adventure and feel called to help others, then travel nursing could be the perfect career path. Right now, hospitals need people who are willing to drop everything, roll up their sleeves, and help patients get well.

Wound Care Nursing: An Alternative Career Path for Nurses

Wound Care Nursing: An Alternative Career Path for Nurses

Wound Care Nursing: An Alternative Career Path for Nurses

According to The Association For The Advancement Of Wound Care (AAWC), “More people are living with a chronic wound than with breast, colon, and lung cancers, and leukemia combined.” Moreover, the prevalence of leg ulcers in the US ranges between 500,000 and one million, and over 1% of the population has or has had a venous leg ulcer.

Yet, the AAWC also notes that while pressure ulcers have a 15% prevalence, at least 95% of them are preventable. Diabetic ulcers are not much different. While 16% of them will lead to an amputation, most are preventable.

Information like this indicates that there is a tremendous need for nurses who are educated in wound care. Utilizing various techniques to assess, treat, and care for patients with wounds, wound care nurses work with the doctor and care team to determine if other treatments like surgery or antibiotics are necessary. Wound care nurses also offer education to patients and their caretakers about caring for wounds, reducing their incidence, and preventing further complications. Here are five ways in which becoming a wound care specialist can help nurses.

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Market Trends In Wound Care Nursing

According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) National Diabetes Statistics Report, 34.2 million, or 10.5% of the US population, have diabetes. Further, 88 million or 34.5 % of the US population 18 years or older have prediabetes. The CDC also notes that the cases of type 1 and type diabetes continue to rise. 

As more people become diabetic and possibly bedridden, they also become more at risk for pressure ulcers and diabetic amputations. While the National Institutes of Health describe chronic wounds as a significant and often underappreciated burden to the individual, they also impose a burden on the healthcare system and society. Nurses who are wound care specialists stay abreast of the evolving market trends and meet the demand for wound care specialists.

Advance Employment Outlook

Treating chronic wounds requires a variety of techniques, such as debridement, cleaning, bandaging. Moreover, effective wound management involves working with the doctor and care team to determine if other treatments like surgery or antibiotics are necessary. Because additional training and techniques are required to effectively treat chronic wounds and improve their outcome, nurses who specialize in wound care significantly improve their employment outlook.

wound care nursing

Wound care nursing: an alternative career path for nurses.

Improve Patient Outcomes

Complications of chronic wounds, such as cellulitis and infective venous eczema, gangrene, hemorrhage, and lower-extremity amputations, can worsen outcomes. In a sort of vicious cycle, chronic wounds can lead to disability, and disability worsens wound outcomes. In the case of amputation, the prognosis is also not positive. The CDC states that after an amputation, 13-40% of people will die within a year, and 39-80% within five years. For comparison, 5-year mortality for all cancers is 34.2%. Nurses who are educated in how to treat chronic wounds, therefore, can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Reduce Hospital Stay

The NCBI describes chronic wounds as those that, after eight weeks, do not show any signs of healing. This includes venous leg ulcers, pressure ulcers, and complex wounds. Chronic wounds are those that do not progress through normal, orderly, and timely healing. As such, according to American Family Physician, they are common and are often incorrectly treated. This leads to an increased hospital stay. By understanding how to treat chronic wounds correctly and effectively, nurses can significantly reduce patient hospital stays.

Prevent Rehospitalization

Because chronic wounds are inherently hard to manage and may require and coordinated effort by a multidisciplinary team, they pose a patient at a greater risk for rehospitalization. This may occur as the wound fails to heal correctly, or should the patient and caregiver lack the necessary education needed to improve wound healing. According to woundsound.com, patient education and caregiver involvement are critical components in wound healing and ultimately improving patient outcomes. When wounds heal correctly, rehospitalization rates are dramatically reduced. By becoming educated in wound care, nurses can help improve wound care management and reduce rehospitalization rates.

The rates of chronic wounds are increasing rapidly, as is the rate of people at risk of developing a chronic wound. Through becoming specialized in the care of wounds, nurses meet market trends, advance employment outlook, improve patient outcomes, reduce hospital stay, and prevent rehospitalization.

About The Author

Claire Nana, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in post-traumatic growth, optimal performance, and wellness. She has written over thirty continuing education courses on a variety of topics including nutrition, mental health, wound care, and post-traumatic stress.

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