What Is the Burnout Rate for Nurses?

Nursing has always been a stressful profession, but the situation has become much worse in the past three years. Nurse burnout statistics show that an increasing number of employees are suffering from mental health issues. This is because there has been an acute staff shortage since the Covid-19 pandemic, so the remaining nurses have had to work harder than ever. Read on to find out more about nurse burnout and how it can be prevented.

Nurse Burnout Statistics: What Is the Burnout Rate for Nurses? 

Burnout is defined as work-related stress that stops the patient from participating in their normal activities. It is a serious problem because sufferers often have to give up their jobs. They might struggle with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and detachment. Some of the physical symptoms of burnout include headaches, intestinal issues, fatigue, changes in sleep, changes in appetite, and frequent illness.

Nurse burnout has been a problem for many years, but it is more acute than ever since the pandemic. Over 33% of nurses now report that they feel burned out or very burned out. According to the American Nurses Foundation, around 75% of nurses regularly feel stressed. 69% feel frustrated, and 62% feel overwhelmed. Although they might not be burned out yet, they are at risk.

What Are the Main Reasons for Nurse Burnout?

People are most likely to get burned out if they work in a high-stress profession that involves regular contact with customers or patients. Nurses, teachers, social workers, EMTs, surgeons, and retail workers often struggle with this issue. The most common problems are stressful working conditions, long hours, and traumatic situations.

Employees might also suffer from burnout due to tense relationships with their coworkers and a lack of support from their organization’s management team. If you run a hospital or clinic, there’s a lot you can do to support your nurses. Make sure the environment is positive, give your employees enough time off, and always encourage communication.

Stressful Working Conditions 

The nursing shortage is a vicious cycle. The fewer nurses there are, the more stress is placed on the remaining ones. Nowadays, many medical professionals work long hours and take on more shifts than is sustainable. Studies have shown that people who work 60 hours are twice as likely to get burned out as those who work 40 hours. For those who spend more than 84 hours at work, the risk of burnout quadruples.

Although there are laws about the number of hours a person can spend at work each week, long work weeks are a massive problem. Most hospitals and clinics still have 12-hour shifts. Many nurses also work a lot of overtime because there aren’t enough workers to cover all the shifts.

Tense Relationships with Coworkers

Nurses who share their shifts with supportive coworkers and have a good management team are much less likely to burn out than those who are unhappy with the atmosphere at work. Burnout results from chronic stress, and people who aren’t respected and valued at work feel much more pressure. That’s why building up a positive company culture is one of the most important ways of reducing burnout rates.

Traumatic Situations 

For many, caring for patients is the most rewarding part of nursing, but it’s also the most challenging. Medical professionals in critical or end-of-life care are regularly exposed to tragic situations. This can result in compassion fatigue. Nurses are no longer able to empathize with patients because they have witnessed too many traumatic events.

Fortunately, not all nursing jobs involve dealing with tragic situations. People who are at risk of burnout because they have witnessed too many traumatic events benefit from being transferred to a less emotionally draining department until they have processed their emotions. They might do well as a nurse educator, a long-term care nurse, a clinical research nurse, or a lactation consultant.

Lack of Support

People with stressful jobs need to be supported, both at work and in their private lives. Many nurses are good caregivers, and they might have private responsibilities in addition to their job. This makes it difficult for them to unwind and find time for activities they enjoy.

This problem is compounded if there isn’t enough support at work. Some facilities don’t have open communication channels, so it’s difficult for nurses to speak about their challenges. The hospitals and clinics that experience the lowest burnout rates are typically the ones with a supportive management team that listens to staff and helps people to balance their personal and professional lives.

What Are the Consequences of Nurse Burnout? 

Nurse burnout statistics show that around 75% of nurses are frequently stressed. This impacts their personal well-being and professional performance, and it has the potential to shorten their lives. Institutions with a high burnout rate have a high staff turnover, higher costs, and lower patient satisfaction ratings. Studies have also shown that the quality of care is inferior when nurses aren’t healthy.

For Facilities

Nurses are the backbone of every hospital or care facility. They make sure that patients are comfortable, keep everything running smoothly, and help other medical professionals to perform their jobs. When the nurse burnout rate is high, facilities are much more likely to have low patient satisfaction ratings because the level of care drops significantly.

According to a study by Marshall University, more patients pass away in the hospital if the nurse-to-patient ratio is greater than 1:4. The number of urinary tract infections and surgical site infections increases when nurses make mistakes due to exhaustion. Staff turnover is also much higher, so facilities spend money and time finding new employees. This puts even more stress on an already overwhelmed system.

For Individual Nurses 

The symptoms of burnout are severe and affect every aspect of a person’s life. Nurses might experience physical symptoms, mood swings, increased irritability, and persistent fatigue. This prevents them from participating in leisure activities they used to enjoy and building up healthy relationships. In 2021, the WHO determined that over 745,000 people die every year due to a stroke or heart attack caused by overwork.

Burnout is incredibly hard to recover from. On average, it takes three months to a year for a burned-out person to return to their job. If low-grade burnout has become chronic, it might take patients three to five years. Many people never feel as energetic and motivated as before, and they are prone to relapses if they encounter stressful situations again.

How Can Nurse Burnout Be Prevented? 

A lot can be done to reduce the risk of nurse burnout. Management teams must keep their communication channels open so nurses feel they can speak to someone about their work-related problems.

A great way to get the conversation started is to set up a workshop or hand out information about nurse burnout. If a hospital or clinic is facing staff shortages, the management team has to come up with innovative solutions to make work less stressful for nurses.

Providing Information

A great way to begin is to set up an event that draws attention to the problem. Discuss your facility’s situation with a nurse burnout expert like Dr. Feyi. She can put together a custom conference or meeting that helps your staff to identify, understand, and solve problems related to stress at work. She will also give you ideas about how to ease your nurses’ workload and make the workplace more agreeable for them.

It’s always a good idea to hand out flyers or brochures at your event. That way, nurses can read through Dr. Feyi’s suggestions and figure out how to implement them. Written material is more long-lasting and prevents the information from getting lost.

Open Communication

After your event, encourage open discussions. Make sure all nurses understand how to get help when they feel overwhelmed. Ask them to get in touch with you in person, over the phone, or via email if they are stressed or burned out. The earlier a problem is addressed, the more effectively it can be solved. As mentioned, burnout is extremely difficult to cure, so it’s better to prevent it.

Coming Up with Innovative Solutions 

If you’re struggling with understaffing, consider innovative solutions. Some hospitals have set up quiet break rooms for their nurses, so they can spend some time relaxing before, during, and after their shifts. These rooms are often lit soothingly, and they contain relaxing sofas, snacks, and massage chairs. Some hospitals even allow nurses to bring their pets to work.

Other organizations have hired wellness professionals who show staff how to meditate, practice mindfulness, or prepare simple and healthy meals. Some classes are ongoing, but others only need to be held once or twice.

Recent nurse burnout statistics show that more than 75% of nurses are at risk due to long hours, tense relationships with coworkers, stressful and traumatic work situations, and a lack of support. Facilities can improve working conditions by providing relevant information and coming up with innovative solutions. Contact WaistedRN to find out more about Dr. Feyi. As a researcher and former nurse, she will be happy to coach or speak to your team.