It’s a pandemic, increasing compassion fatigue, burnout, turnover, and poor patient care. Obviously, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out the negative impacts of under staffing on patient care.
However, it persists, and seems pervasive everywhere.
It’s cyclical. It goes something like this: We’re understaffed. –> “This sucks.” –> “I’m burned out.” –> “I’m calling in; I’m tired.” –> We’re understaffed.
The cycle continues
While it’s easy to blame management, there are other variables at play contributing to staffing issues.
Let’s consider them now. How many of us have been victims of lateral violence at work?
How many of us have been abused by our patients and their families?
How many of us have been victims of poor planning or poor patient to nurse ratios?
The answer is, unsurprisingly, that we all have. Most of these problems are preventable, yet we, as well as management, keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
We don’t confront the very issues that drive many nurses out of our field far too early. For instance, when we’re abused physically, we need to press charges.
Yes, our patients are sick, but we’re not punching bags either. We’re not martyrs. We shouldn’t jump on the proverbial hand grenade for our patients, our unit, our colleagues, or our hospital.
So, what can we do about the other issues plaguing the workplace?
How do we prevent compassion fatigue and burnout, the horizontal violence at work, the poor nursing to patient ratios and deal with management’s poor planning?
I don’t have all the answers, but we must work together to break the cycle.
We’re wearing ourselves out, literally and figuratively. We’re overworked, which increases our stress levels mentally and physically.
The long term wear and tear
How many of us have back problems? Hypertension? I’m a new nurse, and I already realize this isn’t healthy.
We can’t continue playing the game which ignores horizontal violence that emerges on the floor among nurses. Instead, we must choose to confront nurses who abuse their fellow nurses.
When necessary, report them to your supervisor, your Human Resources Department, your Director of Nursing.
In essence, become a real pain in the ass until someone listens to you and decides to make a change.
And finally, the problem which inspired this week’s entry: poor staffing decisions by management. This, I’m afraid, is a little more complicated.
I’m not sure what we can do, other than argue our position to management.
It’s simple really; we need more nurses.
Most hospitals have a profit motive, and this profit motive is negatively correlated with poor nurse to patient ratios.
However, what management hasn’t recognized is the large financial expenditure spent on training new staff, offering bonus shifts, and paying overtime wages to currently overworked nurses due to high turnover rates caused by a basic lack of appropriate scheduling.
I guess, when it comes to management, we must face reality.
And in the meantime, maybe we need to repeat the Serenity Prayer to ourselves as we work each shift.
Lord, grant us the strength to accept the things we can’t change; the courage to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.