Newly licensed RNs report having fewer job opportunities

( Compared with six years ago, newly licensed RNs have greater job commitment but are more likely to work part-time, and to report that they had fewer job opportunities, according to a study. [Read more…]

Beating the burnout: Nurses struggle with physical, mental and emotional exhaustion at work

(Holland Sentinel) As educators, caretakers and lifelines, nurses take on several roles as they routinely care for patients day in and day out.

And for some, the strains of the job can eventually lead to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, otherwise known as burnout.

“It’s really stressful,” Dawn Kettinger, spokeswoman for the Michigan Nurses Association, said. “You’re taking care of six people when you should take care of four.”

That was the case for Debra Nault.

Nault worked as an obstetrics nurse and midwife for almost 25 years at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. It was a job she loved, but what ultimately did her in, she said, was the cultural change at work. An unnecessary increase in cesarean deliveries and medically induced labor began to make OB nursing feel like assembly line work, she said.

Nault also felt like she was losing control of her schedule, assignments and workload. As a charge nurse, she had the added responsibility of caring for patients while also running the unit.

“(Burnout) caused nearly constant frustration and sometimes guilt.

When you’re on the front lines and know what’s needed to provide quality care but do not have the resources of support, it’s very irritating. Your frustration and bad attitude can spill over to your performance and interactions.”

Nault’s experience is not rare. Nurse burnout is affecting the health care system and causing high rates of turnover in the field.

Although colleges and universities in West Michigan are generating 745 new registered nurses annually, the influx still falls short of the projected annual demand by more than 100, according to Grand Valley State University’s report “Health Check: Analyzing Trends in West Michigan 2014.”

Employment of registered nurses in Michigan is projected to grow 19 percent from 2010 to 2020.

But who will fill those jobs? According to a 2013 survey by the Michigan Center for Nursing, 42 percent of all active RNs say they plan to practice nursing for only one to 10 more years.

It’s an issue that affects everyone, Kettinger said. “More nurses are retiring earlier, and that’s a real concern for all of us in the public. We want those experienced nurses to stay on and provide quality, safe care.”

Burnout can be caused by several factors, including lack of social support, inability to control one’s work schedule or assignments, a chaotic or monotonous job and work-life imbalance. But Kettinger said short staffing is often the primary contributor.

As hospitals try to cut costs, that tactic backfires and becomes a patient safety issue.

“You’re running around taking care of people’s needs,” Kettinger said. “People describe going home at night and thinking, ‘What did I forget?'”

According to the Michigan Nurses Association, short staffing is connected to higher infection rates, higher preventable falls and higher death rates.

Similar to burnout is the issue of compassion fatigue, the emotional strain of dealing with traumatic and difficult situations on a daily basis.

The two are very connected, said Shari Schwanzl, vice president of operations and nursing for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

It’s a lot like post-traumatic stress disorder. Your response to these emotional things becomes normal, and it shouldn’t be.”

One way hospitals can keep compassion fatigue from setting in, Schwanzl said, is to make sure employee assistance programs are in place. The teams should come in 24-48 hours after a traumatic situation to help employees debrief and deal with the experience.

If that kind of debriefing isn’t in place, then there’s a cumulative effect, Schwanzl said, and staff can burn out very quickly.

The pace of the job is fast and furious, Schwanzl said, and because of that, nurses need to be reminded and encouraged to find time to decompress, sleep enough at night, eat regularly and exercise.

“Our leadership responsibility is to remind people this is tough stuff but you can do a better job when you’re in a better place.”

Kettinger and Nault agree burnout has probably worsened, as the workload of the average nurse is greater today than it was 10 or 15 years ago because of more technology, documentation, electronic medical records and added nursing responsibilities.

In order to reduce burnout, the Michigan Nurses Association is hoping for the passage of a state law that would require hospitals to provide minimum nurse staffing at all times. State Rep. Jon Switalski and state Sen. Rebekah Warren have introduced two bills to address that concern.

Currently, both are waiting to be taken up by legislative committees.

If passed, Kettinger said, the bills would keep nurses from working 15- to 18-hour shifts and reaching the point of exhaustion and eventual burnout.

“In a way, it’s a broad issue with lots of subpoints, but in another way it’s very simple — nursing is a hard job, and nurses need support,” Kettinger said. “They have a legal and ethical and moral obligation to provide safe, quality care every time.”

From nurses and students, a new assault on inequality

(Hays Post) From the White House to the Vatican, everyone these days seems to be talking about income inequality. But our politics hasn’t kept up. Concrete proposals that could actually narrow the gap between the rich and the rest of us haven’t yet moved onto our public policy center stage. [Read more…]

Moving Time for Nurses Who Don’t Need Doctors

(Texas Tribune) As an advanced practice nurse specializing in family medicine, Holly Jeffreys operates the only medical clinics in two rural Texas Panhandle counties. The state requires that she have a contract with a physician to supervise both clinics, but she operates the facilities almost independently. [Read more…]

Better prepared workforce, better retention

(American Nurse) Whether it is a brand new nurse taking on the challenges of full patient-loads or an experienced clinician moving into a managerial or academic role, having a mentor can make an RN’s professional life exponentially better than having to go it alone.

Nurses who are involved in mentoring say that every nurse deserves a trusted mentor. But historically, that’s not been the case, especially given the military and monastic roots of nursing. [Read more…]

A nurse who is healing patients and himself

He was riding in his aunt’s sedan, a kid in elementary school, watching senior citizens walk in and out of the Lynwood retirement home where his mother worked. Then she emerged in scrubs.

That’s it.

David Fuentes holds on tightly to that simple memory: his mother at work. It’s easier than recalling many other parts of his childhood — “a blur,” as he calls it.

Like the time when he was little and his father, drunk, socked his mother. She remembers the blood gushing from her face and her child standing in the bathroom saying, “Mom, Mom.” [Read more…]

Medical industry works to head off looming nurse shortage

(The Gazette) Mary Ann Osborn believes a perfect storm is brewing on the state’s health care horizon.

Iowa’s aging population, combined with the thousands of residents who now have access to health care because of the Affordable Care Act, could bring about a nursing shortage.

“For all of us, the next work force is critical,” said Osborn, vice president and chief clinical officer at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. “It’s not something one organization will solve.”

Iowa is not alone, either. According to the U.S. Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast, a shortage of registered nurses is projected to spread across the country between 2009 and 2030. [Read more…]

Nurses not so thrilled about MTV’s Scrubbing In

MTV has released the trailer for their upcoming nursing docu-series Scrubbing In, and the initial response from the nursing community has been overwhelmingly negative.

Via the show’s “about” section:

‘Scrubbing In’ follows a group of travel nurses assigned to work at an Orange County, CA hospital for 12 weeks. Relocating from across the country, these nurses have left their hometowns and lives behind for short-term hospital contracts, with the added benefit of exploring a new city. For Tyrice, Chris and Fernando, this isn’t their first tour and they’re considered experts of the program. For first-timers Adrian, Chelsey, Michelle, Crystal, Nikki and Heather, this is a new journey they’re embarking on together, looking for a change from their nursing jobs in Pittsburgh, PA.

The first footage from the show features the girls and guys living the life while a narrator tells us they’re hell raisers, heart breakers, life savers and fun seekers. There’s bikini bodies, a serious six-pack, partying and, oh yeah, working!

We are talking about reality TV entertainment here, but folks from the nursing community have been voicing concern about how Scrubbing In will portray their profession in a negative light:

Caitlin Gardner wrote: “I am disgusted with MTV and these “nurses.” As a “20-something-year-old” RN, I have to express the shame I feel now for having to be associated with this swill! What kind of an institution would allow this to be aired, Jersey Shore Medical Center?”

Via the comments section from the trailer’s post on MTV:

Tiffanie stated: “this is absoloutely an insult to the profession!!!!! These girls are not an example of what a PROFESSIONAL is. You should be ashamed of yourselves. As a nursefor 13 years this saddens me that this is the future my profession.”

Aimee commented: “I was really excited when I heard this was going to air a few months ago. Now to see the preview of it, absolutely disgusts me. For anyone in the nursingprofession, this does nothing other than shed bad light on this particular career. Being a student nurse, scheduled to graduate in May, this show portrays NOTHING close to what my classmates and the fellow nurses I have had the opportunity to work with. This will leave nothing but a negative stigma. MTV just took a professional job such as nursing, and have dressed it down as if it is similar to the Real World. Fact…There is no “partying” after a 12 hour day. Most nurses are lucky after working a 12 or 16 hour day to make the drive home, shower the mucus, vomit and blood off of them, and crawl into bed to get a hopeful 6 hours of sleep! This show will not portray the reality of what a nurses life is really like…. because if MTV actually did just that…. it would be cancelled after the first episode! We don’t party, we aren’t “slutty”! And we would like to be treated with some respect that we worked very very hard to earn!!!!!!!!!”

Lisa: This is NOT what our profession needs….more media portrayal of nurses as sex objects. This is a disgrace to the professionalism and integrity of a job many of us are truly passionate about.

Alexis: As a young nurse, I’m dreading this shows release. I am not at all what this trailerportrays, I am a professional and my private life is kept that way. This will portray all young female nurses in a horrid way that could affect our future jobs as well as our relationships with our patients. =( =( =(

Josh: As a nurse, this makes me want to vomit. Oh wait, I just did.

Via a forum about the trailer from, itzvalerie suggested the following. “I saw the preview & just was talking to my boyfriend about this. It could be good & draw more people into the nursing profession. I’m just worried that the way they will show it there will be excessive drinking, the nurses will be really clique-y & a lot of drama.” Squishy LVN replied, “Whatever people this show will draw into the nursing profession I doubt are the kind of people we would want in the nursing profession.”

Reality shows from MTV often face a backlash before they air. Buckwild even made national headlines when West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin stated he was “repulsed” by the trailer and penned a letter to the president of MTV requesting that they not air the show.

Scrubbing In is set for an October 24 premiere at 10/9c.

Nurses: The forgotten workforce

(Medical Express) A new national survey of nurses’ attitudes highlights a profession that sees itself as overlooked by management and constantly suffocated by too much red tape. [Read more…]

Unprecedented Demand For Family Docs, Nurse Practitioners As Obamacare Emerges

(Forbes) The family physician is the most highly recruited doctor as the Affordable Care Act and trends in medical economics move more health care service to less expensive outpatient settings,according to a national doctor recruitment firm. [Read more…]