Twelve-hour shifts, sleep deprivation, skeleton staffing, and difficult patients. For nurses, these working conditions come with the profession. However, being on the front lines of patient care can have deleterious effects for those providing care.
Nurse retention and burnout plague many hospitals and health systems, but nowhere is the issue more prevalent than among dialysis nurses. One in three dialysis nurses in the United States experiences burnout. That’s because these nurses are usually more overworked, underpaid and, at times, undervalued than their peers in different specialties, says Francyne N. Rosenstock, vice president of Business Development and Marketing for Renal Reserve.
Effects of Burnout on Staff and Patients
Burned out, overworked nurses often provide sub-par patient care due to factors like:
- Decreased morale and fatigue
- Staff shortages
- Heart disease
How to Tell if Your Nursing Staff is Suffering from Burnout
Someone on your staff may be burned out if he or she:
- Frequently calls in sick
- Is frequently late for shifts
- Has issues with coworkers with whom he or she previously had good relationships
- Is regularly missing deadlines or is unable to complete tasks in a timely manner
- Frequently asks to go home before his or her shift has ended
What can be done to reduce dialysis nurse burnout?
While better utilizing nurses’ skills and giving them more time for direct patient care have been discussed as ways to retain dialysis nursing staff, another important issue is overlooked, according Tamara Kear, assistant professor of nursing at Villanova University.
Unlike other specialty areas, nephrology nurse programs often lack effective recruitment and support programs for novice nurses. Kear suggests the specialty expose student nurses to the field between their junior and senior years of study. This gives the nursing students exposure to the field while allowing their nurse mentors to observe their patient care skills, work ethic and other traits. Kear says these nursing students often apply to the health system and unit with which they externed, which can make an externship program a cost-effective tool.
The Cleveland Clinic finds that focusing on personal wellness helps retain nursing staff. The Clinic provides nurses with yoga and reiki classes, as well as information on stress reduction, personal wellness and weight management.
Simply taking time to talk with your staff to gauge their stress levels, or observing their time-off patterns or physical health, can go a long way in making sure the pressures of the job don’t wreak havoc in your dialysis unit.