Nurses need more respect, stronger voice

Hospitals and healthcare facilities don't give nurses enough recognition, support or appreciation--and the effects are far-reaching, according to an opinion piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The lack of appreciation, combined with stress and burnout from an emotionally draining, time-consuming job, leave nurses wanting to abandon the field. It can even lead to high job turnover and more error-prone nurses, according to authors Dorrie K. Fontaine, the dean of the University of Virginia's (UVA) School of Nursing; Sadie Heath Cabaniss, professor of nursing and associate chief nursing officer at UVA Medical Center; and Kenneth R. White, the associate dean for strategic partnerships and innovation at UVA's nursing school.

Nurses often feel they lack both a voice in important hospital decisions and collaboration with other stakeholders. "While we nurses love our work, we often hate our jobs," the piece states.

But when nurses feel respected, cared for and heard, their own care improves, which can boost engagement, decrease turnover, and bolster outcomes and metrics, according to the article. To achieve this, nursing schools must teach resiliency, but hospitals and healthcare facilities must play their role too.

These institutions should offer ongoing educational credits and workshops, celebrate accomplishments, and retain talent by linking high expectations and performance with praise, incentives and financial rewards. To ease the stress and burnout from long shifts and demanding patients, hospitals should hire more nursing staff, which in turn brings higher-quality care. "We absolutely need to have budgets and finance that support the right number of nurses at the bedside," Fontaine told NBC 29 news.

Physicians and hospital executives must engage nurses in a dialogue where all parties are equal and each participant plays an important role, the authors write. "[I]f they are listened to and supported, if logistical roadblocks are removed by leaders not driven by ego or history or policy or why something can't be done, nurses will be able to both love their work and their jobs," the piece states.

To learn more:
- here's the opinion piece
- read the NBC 29 article