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Nursing News: How to Decrease Nurse Burnout and Increase Nurse Retention

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, November 6th, 2012

There is a stress-free zone for nurses to rest and regroup at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania. The hospital turned an area that was previously used for radiology into the Center for Nursing Renewal, which opened in October 2011, in an effort to decrease nurse burnout. In this area nurses can take time away from their day on a routine basis or if something has gone wrong, to regroup and reenergize. From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., nurses can freely enjoy a break room, personal meditation room, lactation lounge, massage chairs, televisions, computers and free fitness and nutrition classes.

A recent School of Nursing study found a direct correlation between overworked nurses and patient infections, injuries and death rates. The study surveyed more than 7,000 nurses in Pennsylvania and found them to be overwhelmingly dealing with burnout-related issues, including too many overtime hours and patient load increases.

The nurses dealing with burnout had a patient load average of 5.7 per shift. When increased by one more patient, there were 1,351 additional infections reported, according to the study by the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research.

Though nurse burnout isn’t a pressing issue at HUP, the hospital has been making great effort to prevent it. Nurse burnout can arise from emotional exhaustion and continuous exposure to difficult patient and families. It is a sustained condition over time that is different for each individual.

Although HUP is doing its part to minimize nurse burnout, the individual nurses can help prevent it as well. Burnout can stem from a work-life imbalance and lack of self-care. Employees should come to work well-rested, strong in mind, body and spirit.

Monitoring how much overtime nurses sign up for is a way to help them balance their workload. Overtime regulations make hospitals safer for both patients and nurses.

However, even if a hospital takes every precaution to prevent nurse burnout, it can still happen. It is the nurses’ responsibilities to nurture themselves physically, mentally and spiritually, to reduce occasion for burnout.

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