- Vaccines will decrease the incidence of COVID-19
- Nurse burnout has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic
- There are evidence-based best practices to reduce burnout and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on nurses
As a growing number of Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, we begin to see a little light at the end of the tunnel, but the impact of COVID-19 on nurses has been extensive.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unimaginable and harrowing toll on our frontline workers, especially nurses,” said Alyza Berman, LCSW, RRT-P, founder and clinical director of The Berman Center. “The increase in burnout rates and high levels of anxiety is astounding.”
Prior to the pandemic, nursing burnout rates were already at a high 40%. Now, according to the International Council of Nurses, the rate has increased to 70%.
In other words, more than vaccines are needed to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on nurses.
Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Nurses
While we will never again overlook the possibility and power of a pandemic, we must not underestimate the impact the global pandemic has had on clinicians. Healthcare providers on the front lines of the healthcare response have worked to the limits of endurance.
Nurses continue to struggle to reduce burnout symptoms that can push them to peak physical and mental health concerns.
According to Wei, “With COVID burnout, nurses and medical professionals are dealing with never-before-seen situations every single day that include life or death situations. And while the prospect of death is nothing new to working in medicine, COVID has exacerbated and heightened this culmination of physical and psychological exhaustion to levels unseen before.”
Evidence-based strategies proven to help combat the impact of COVID-19 on nurses are needed – urgently.
What does combating nurse burnout look like?
Addressing the impact of COVID-19 on nurses includes reducing burnout and promoting clinician wellbeing.
To address both effectively, follow these four evidence-based best practices to support nurses and promote their wellbeing.
- Institute and Broaden Shared Governance
Instituting shared governance allows nurses to have a voice and a seat at the decision-making table. Shared governance allows nurses to collaborate with peers, make their opinions known, and shape policies and procedures that directly impact their working environments.
- Establish Leader Rounding
Leader rounding is an evidence-based, daily practice consisting of leaders visiting with clinicians and staff in patient care areas to solicit feedback and discuss their work. Leader rounding is not a meeting – meetings are not conducive to thoughtful, honest feedback – and every level of leadership conducts it.
Leader rounding demonstrates that leadership cares about clinician feedback and is actively seeking it out. Additionally, it gives leaders an opportunity to identify signs and symptoms of burnout to begin addressing them before they escalate further.
- Build Robust Staffing and Break Models
Having robust staffing and break models improve both teamwork and care delivery. These models can help clinicians rely less on the workarounds and flawed processes that have bread inefficiency and burnout.
- Reduce Alert and Alarm Fatigue
Nurses encounter a cacophony of noise during their shifts, and the combination of alerts, alarms, and notifications disrupting patient care leads to mistakes, safety issues, and increased clinician burnout.
By investing in technology that unifies alarms and alerts distinguishes between clinically urgent and informal notifications, healthcare organizations can drastically help address the impact of COVID-19 on nurses, improve burnout, and reduce alert and alarm fatigue.