Stress, burnout hinder nurse performance

Nurses face some of the highest levels of work-related depression, stress and burnout of any profession. It may help to reduce that stress if hospitals rethink how nurses and staff fit into the healthcare chain of command while making the organizations better and more profitable places to work, according to National Public Radio.

Nurses worldwide are overstressed and overworked while they feel decidedly undervalued by hospital management. A 2007 study found that 24 percent of ICU nurses and 14 percent of general nurses show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Nurses and other care providers cite "moral distress" as a major burnout factor, the inability to align the care they provide with their own beliefs of how patients should be treated. When medical errors lead to patient deaths or injuries, these stressors are compounded and can result in deep depression and trauma for personnel, according to Forbes.

Part of the problem is that many nurses and physicians feel that hospitals and healthcare organizations are too often structured from the top down, and that administrators and managers who set hospital policy see nurses as a commodity, not as a stream of revenue, NPR reports. But Magnet hospitals, which are accredited nationally for nursing excellence, provide nurses with a greater say in patient care, resources and staffing. These hospitals also report more satisfied nurses, better patient outcomes and costs.

Other hospitals help reduce nurse stress by offering wellness programs. For example, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago provides monthly workshops for hospital workers that includes interaction dogs from local shelters and an animal therapy group in order to relieve stress and improve morale, according to the New Haven Register

To learn more:
- here's the NPR report
- read the Forbes article
- here's the New Haven Register article