News Corner: To Avoid Nurse Burnout, Research Shows to Keep Shifts Short

Numerous studies have shown the impact nurses can have on patient outcomes and satisfaction, and with Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson’s recent monologue showcasing that no nurse is “just” a nurse, this topic is top of mind.

Despite the satisfaction that nurses garner from providing patient care, burnout is still rampant in the industry. While caring for patients can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be emotionally and physically taxing, particularly depending on the types of patients being treated. To combat this problem, researchers at the University of Southampton in the UK sought to identify causes of burnout, particularly as it relates to the length of working shifts.

According to the new study, shifts of 12 hours or longer are tied to numerous issues including nurse burnout. Despite the risks, these long shifts are becoming increasingly common. Healthcare institutions consider them advantageous from an operational standpoint, since they reduce the number of shifts in a day and minimize care transitions. Nurses themselves also perceive advantages such as a compressed working week with more days off and increased flexibility. While in the short term the long shifts may seem to benefit nurses, long-term studies show they negatively affect nurses’ well-being and job satisfaction. The researchers recommend that nurses and staffing managers question regular implementation of any shift longer than eight hours.

While everyone is worried about the nursing shortage, just this week new data shows the projections aren’t as bad as expected. Rather than using overtime (anything over eight-hour shifts) as a strategy to deal with shortages, avenues such as temporary nurses, travel nurses, and involving others from the care team, such as pharmacists, in patient care can be viable strategies.

Related articles:

Hospitals & Health Networks

Fierce Healthcare

NY Magazine

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