10 Steps Hospitals Can Take to Help Overly Stressed Nurses

Did you know that around 75% of nurses feel stressed on a regular basis and that one in five of their sick days is related to mental health issues? If you’d like to reduce the number of stressed nurses in your institution and prevent nurse burnout, now is the time to act. You can start by making important information, such as the symptoms of burnout and the best coping strategies, freely available throughout your hospital. 

Additionally, you might need to evaluate your operations to prevent inefficiencies, make sure that the work environment is pleasant, and check in with all employees on a regular basis. A motivational speaker who has first-hand experience with nursing, such as Dr. Feyi, could help you to get on the right track and kick-start your mental health awareness program.

10 Steps Hospitals Can Take to Help Overly Stressed Nurses

1. Teach Staff to Recognize Nurse Burnout Before It Happens 

Ignoring the warning signs of burnout can be fatal because the condition becomes more serious the longer it isn’t treated. For this reason, it’s essential that nurses are educated about the early warning signs. Some of them include a loss of enthusiasm for work and other previously enjoyable activities, constant fatigue, worry and anxiety, sleep problems, irritability, and mood swings.

By providing all staff with information about burnout and other mental health issues, hospitals can make sure that the symptoms don’t go unrecognized. Once a nurse knows that they are close to burning out, they can take proactive steps to remedy the situation, for example by practicing self-care, choosing a different specialty, or speaking to a therapist.

2. Make Information about Coping Strategies Available 

Simply recognizing the symptoms of burnout isn’t enough. Hospitals also have to be proactive about helping nurses and other employees cope with their fatigue. Holding a workshop and making material available about various coping strategies can be an important follow-up step. Because there are many different options and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, nurses should be encouraged to try different things. 

For example, some people will feel better if they share their problems with friends, family members, or even a therapist, while others prefer spending time alone to re-charge. Some common ways of dealing with symptoms include meditating, practicing mindfulness, doing gentle or moderate exercise, and carving out some time for a favorite hobby or relaxing activity.

3. Evaluate the Efficiency of All Systems 

Most hospitals are hopelessly overloaded and understaffed, so it’s hard to protect the mental health of employees. However, it’s likely that your system has some inefficiencies, which you can remove to take pressure off your workers. If you have noticed that a growing number of nurses are burning out, ask a nursing mentor or a business consultant to evaluate your hospital. 

Most nurses and doctors believe that a lot of time gets wasted doing paperwork and documentation, so this could be a great place to start. You might be able to increase your efficiency by using technological solutions, such as health service software, which can automate many processes. Good software will allow you to create a schedule more quickly, take notes in one centralized location, and share patient information more easily. 

4. Check the Working Environment 

While nurses often feel pressure due to difficult interactions with patients or the sheer amount of work they have to do, the problem is sometimes related to the work environment. If employees are not getting along well or if someone is putting undue pressure on others, stress can be multiplied. Because nurses already operate in a high-pressure environment, trouble among colleagues can be detrimental. 

To prevent burnout and other mental health issues, don’t ignore issues with the work environment, and always address problems when they arise between two team members. Sometimes, mixing up teams can work wonders for the atmosphere within your hospital. It’s also important for the executives and high-level employees to model good behavior, since the work environment is determined to a great degree by those people. 

5. Encourage Workers to Check In Regularly 

Countless studies have shown that human interactions are crucial for people’s wellbeing. If stressed nurses who are struggling with the symptoms of burnout or other mental health issues don’t feel supported by their institution, it’s much harder for them to deal with their issue. For this reason, it’s important for hospitals to check in with each employee on a regular basis.

You can also encourage your staff to speak to people they are close to or to seek out professional help. A partnership with a mental health professional could be very fruitful. For example, you could seek out a few high-quality therapists in your area and ask them to partner with you. In exchange for referring your staff to them, they will charge everyone in your institution a lower rate. If there is any flexibility in your budget, you could even take on a part of the cost.

6. Hire More Staff Whenever Feasible 

A big reason why nurse burnout is such a problem is understaffing. Most hospitals simply don’t have the money or the staff to provide healthy working conditions. This is a difficult situation for everyone because there is no easy solution. If you give your current employees more time off, you’re sacrificing the health of your patients, but if you ask team members to work more, they might quit, and you’ll have an even greater problem. 

Although it might be difficult, make an effort to hire more staff whenever possible. If there is a lot of competition for nurses in your area, think about how you can make your work environment more attractive than other institutions around you. Implementing a solid mental health program, valuing all team members, and offering good benefits packages could put you ahead of the competition. 

7. Take Complaints Seriously 

A big reason why many nurses don’t feel valued at work is because they don’t believe they are taken seriously or because they feel undermined by doctors and other team members. Always take complaints about working conditions seriously. Instead of telling people to work things out between themselves or to find a solution on their own, communicate with them and try to figure out what is causing the issue. 

Create an environment that encourages people to speak to you or your HR department about problems they are encountering. The issues could be anything, from long working hours to issues with patients to personal health concerns or financial pressure. The more you know about which aspects of a nurse’s job are causing problems, the better you will be able to come up with solutions. 

8. Come Up with Creative Solutions 

In an effort to reduce stress in nursing, many hospitals have come up with creative solutions designed to improve working conditions. For example, some have set up a staff break room that allows people to relax and feel at home before, after, and even during their shifts. Having a place to sit down and recharge, even if it’s just for a few moments, can make a huge difference. 

Another interesting concept is the use of pets, for instance, emotional support dogs, in healthcare facilities. Some hospitals have introduced visits from such animals, which can provide comfort and support to healthcare professionals who are dealing with difficult situations at work.

9. Bring Wellness to Work 

Certain facilities have gone even further and started providing wellness opportunities at work. During break times, before a shift, or after a shift, employees can either practice meditation or take part in workshops led by professionals like yoga instructors or movement therapists.

Hiring nutritionists or dietitians to work with nurses can also be very effective because nutrition has a huge effect on people’s wellbeing. A good nutritionist can teach your staff how to prepare healthy meals and snacks quickly so people don’t have to worry about spending too much time in the kitchen but can still enjoy the health benefits of good, regular meals. 

10. Put On an Awareness Event at the Hospital 

If you don’t have the time or financial resources to organize regular wellness classes or courses, why not start with a one-off event with a motivational speaker? A person like Dr. Feyi, who has first-hand experience with the stress that is placed on nurses, can help your team to understand how to recognize and fight mental health issues like burnout, depression, and anxiety.

The motivational coach will answer all your team members’ questions, and they can teach new coping strategies. What’s more, they will help your team to reconnect with the reason why they decided to become nurses in the first place: to help others and provide care to people in difficult situations.

Nurse burnout is a serious problem that affects millions of people around the country. To reduce the number of stressed nurses in your institution, take proactive steps. Provide information, support, and guidance to everyone working in your hospital. If you need help, you can reach out to a nurse coach, who will discuss your situation with you and put on an event for your staff. Call Dr. Feyi at Waisted RN now to book your slot or find out more.