Burnout is a psychological condition that drains nurses of their mental and physical strengths because of continuous exposure to unattended job related stressors and inappropriate job coping strategies. Nurse burnout has recently become a much researched topic due to its perceived influence on nurse retention and the attainment of better patient outcomes. Nurses experience various related stressors such as longer working hours, unfavorable working conditions, increased workload due to under staffing and lack of job satisfaction (Toh, Ang and Devi, 2012). If these stressors are left unattended to, they not only have the ability to negatively affect the overall health of the nurse and productivity level but also the outcome of patient care. It is mandatory to formulate adequate coping strategies that can relieve the effects these stressors on the nurse.
The transactional theory fronted by Lazarus and Folkman describes the burnout preventive measures as intentional alterations to one’s mental and behavioral aspects. The alterations are meant to manage both the external and internal work-related stresses that surpass an individual’s resources (Ramezanli, Koshkaki, Talebizadeh, Jahromi, & Jahromi, 2015). Such measures enhance the ability of the nurse to cope and adapt to the ever-changing environment of the nursing industry. Consequently, the nurse will derive job satisfaction, enhance his productivity and attain better patient outcomes (Toh, Ang and Devi, 2012). It is worth acknowledging two known burnout preventive measures strategies that are problem based and emotional based coping strategies. Problem based strategies involve the deliberate attempt by the individual nurse to instigate measures capable of relieving the work related dilemmas as a nurse performs duties (Ramezanli, Koshkaki, Talebizadeh, Jahromi, & Jahromi, 2015). Emotional based coping strategies involve altering the negative emotions and stressful events because of the demanding nature of nursing (Ramezanli, Koshkaki, Talebizadeh, Jahromi, & Jahromi, 2015). The strategy to be employed by a nurse depends on the job stressors. It is necessary to identify appropriate coping strategy that can address specific burnout triggering stressors.
Psychologists recognize the ability of social support to eliminate elements of stress on an individual. Individuals with a strong support system are less vulnerable to stress compared to their counterparts. An individual may gain support from his colleagues, friends and family. Colleagues can ensure that the individual receives relevant assistance when performing assigned duties. Family and friends can be a source of motivation and encouragement when the feelings of self-doubt dominate an individual. It is encouraged that individuals should constantly seek support to ensure that they are not consumed by their emotion burdens. A study was conducted to determine whether nurses who undertake late careers are likely to avoid burnout when organizational leaders supported them. The study found that a supportive environment plays a noteworthy role in avoiding burnout (Toh, Ang and Devi, 2012).
Controlled breathing ensures both the body and the mind are functioning at optimum levels though one faces a stress inducing situation. It also lowers one’s blood pressure and introduces a feeling of calmness. The most common breathing exercise involves taking a deep breath and waiting for a period before exhaling. In the event that nurse faces a situation capable of invoking anger, one should perform this exercise to restore his calmness. The approach will result in proper interaction with patients.
Clinical supervision is a recognized professional support and educational process that empowers nurses to understand the clinical processes. It also allows nurses to offer quality patient care. Supervision encourages the nurse to maintain a desired level of professionalism while undertaking assigned responsibilities. Clinical supervision is renowned for its three vital functions that are normative, formative and restorative. Normative involves according the nurse with relevant advice capable of improving his ability to offer patients quality health care. Formative involves aiding the nurse to acquire relevant knowledge and skills that influence patient care service (Ramezanli, Koshkaki, Talebizadeh, Jahromi, & Jahromi, 2015). Restorative involves according the nurse with relevant support to withstand the demanding nursing profession. The result of a credible supervision process is the improvement of the competency levels of the nurse and the attainment of better patient outcome.
Physical exercise is recognizable for its stress alleviating capabilities. Other than the reported health benefits associated with physical activities, an individual will derive mood benefits and positive wellbeing from such activities (Toh, Ang and Devi, 2012). Physical activities have their ability to distract the human mind from stressful situation. Individuals are encouraged to have a well-planned work out program which they have to follow diligently. Physical activities can take the forms of weight lifting, running, walking, cycling and swimming among others.
Implication for Nursing Practice or Health Care
Nurse burnout is a concern a patient focused health care system because it adversely affects the desired patient outcomes (Toh, Ang and Devi, 2012). The unfavorable working conditions, increased working hours and workload and the absence of job satisfaction and career growth opportunities are responsible for nurse’s disinterest and incentive to work. The conditions have negatively influenced the quality of patient care. Nurse leaders who improve the nurse’s working conditions have benefited from a rejuvenated and committed nurse workforce. Proper work scheduling, provision of relevant support and the nurse’s ability to incorporate coping mechanisms reduce nurse’s burnout and stress. A satisfied nurse provides patients with the best care leading to best outcomes (Khamisa , Oldenburg, Peltzer, & Ilic, 2015).
A healthy and content nurse offers the best solution to the nurse retention dilemma. Currently, the nurse workforce has a shortage dilemma because many nurses are quitting. It is evident that such nurses are not satisfied with their jobs while others are unwilling to join the profession. As a result, the existing nurse workforce is overworked by prolonged hours eventually accelerating the chances of burnout. Ensuring that nurses derive satisfaction from their work enhances the chances of retaining the nurse workforce and encourages others to join the profession (Khamisa , Oldenburg, Peltzer, & Ilic, 2015). It is further affirmed that a relationship exists between nursing shortage and burnout among oncology nurses (Toh, Ang and Devi, 2012).
The increasing demand for quality health care makes it paramount to equip nurses with the relevant knowledge on the available burnout prevention measures. The strategy will ensure that the nurse is constantly motivated to diligently undertake patient care obligations and attain better patient outcome (Ramezanli, Koshkaki, Talebizadeh, Jahromi, & Jahromi, 2015). Failure to equip the nurse with this knowledge will create a demotivated nurse workforce incapable of offering quality care to the patients. A nurse should adopt coping mechanisms to address specific job stressors because of the absence of a universal prevention measure.
Top of Form
Khamisa , N., Oldenburg, B., Peltzer, K., & Ilic, D. (2015). Work Related Stress, Burnout, Job Datisfaction and General Health of Nurses. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 12, 652 – 666.
Ramezanli, S., Koshkaki, A. R., Talebizadeh, M., Jahromi, Z. B., & Jahromi, M. K. (2015). A Study of the Coping Strategies Used by Nurses Working in the Intensive Care Unit of Hospitals Affiliated to Jahrom University of Medical Studies. International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences 4(4), 157 – 163.
Toh, S. G., Ang, E. and Devi, M. K. (2012). Systematic review on the relationship between the nursing shortage and job satisfaction, stress and burnout levels among nurses in oncologyhaematology settings. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare, 10: 126–141. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-1609.2012.00271.x
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