Improving Work Environments Can Decrease Nursing Burnout

Nursing Burnout

(EmaxHealth) - A recent survey by the RAND Corporation has found that there is an increase in the number of people entering the nursing profession. But unfortunately, there is also an increase in the number of nurses who are experiencing burnout and dissatisfaction with their jobs. A study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy research finds that one possible solution is a change to improve working environments.

Between 2002 and 2009, the number of Registered Nurses in the United States increased by 62% finds David Auerbach, lead author and an economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. He believes that a decline in other job, a more accommodating education system, and expanded government funding has contributed to the number of men and women entering nursing. The trend is a positive one, as a decade ago, researchers predicted that there would be a shortage of about 400,000 registered nurses in the United States by 2020.

Unfortunately, though, in a study published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, between 20 to 60% of the 100,000 nurses surveyed from more than 1,400 hospitals around the world are experiencing symptoms of burnout, a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. The nine countries that participated in the study were: China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Countries with the highest level of nursing burnout were South Korea and Japan, with near 60% reporting symptoms. About one-third of nurses in other countries, including the United States, were experiencing a high rate of job dissatisfaction.


One reason for the job-related stress is a feeling that the hospital in which the nurse works does a poor job of preparing patients for discharge. More than half of the nurses in a few of the countries surveyed, particularly those in three out of four Asian countries, felt a lack of confidence that their patients could manage their own care after they left the facility, notes lead author Linda Aiken PhD RN, the director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research.

Other common reasons for job burnout include feeling as though you have little control over your work, lack of recognition or rewards for good work, or overly demanding job expectations.

Dr. Aiken suggest to hospital leaders to improve the quality of care given by increasing staff (staff is often cut to meet financial budgets) and to improve nurse/physician relationships. Nurses should also be more involved in hospital decisions and have greater managerial support. "Increased attention to improving work environments might be associated with substantial gains in stabilizing the global nurse workforce while also improving quality of hospital care throughout the world," she said.

Source References:
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

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