There are patients in stretchers throughout the hallways of the hospital. Waiting rooms are full of patients in need of care. During your 12-hour shift, you might not even get the chance to use the bathroom, eat, or drink. As soon as you finish seeing one patient, there is another one waiting for you. As the stress in nurses builds, ultimately, it negatively impacts patient care.
Nurses need help. With a nursing shortage underway, nurses need ways to alleviate their occupational stressors to avoid burn out. According to a paper published in the November issue of Applied Nursing Research, one-way hospitals can help reduce stress in nurses by implementing online programs.
Risk Factors for Stress in Nurses
Sadly, the overworked nurse narrative is becoming all too familiar. For a long time, nursing has been one of the most stressful professions. Even though nurses are responsible for the healthcare of millions of Americans daily, their own well-being and productivity can be negatively impacted. Some of the risk factors for stress in nurses include:
- Lack of control
- Long work hours
- Shift work
- Interpersonal conflicts
- Insufficient resources
- Poor reward systems
- Bullying and physical violence
- Poor communication flow in hospital
Effects of Stress in Nurses
High rates of stress in nurses can have devastating physical and psychological effects. Nurses experiencing high rates of stress report depression and sleep problems. This stress can lead to feelings of inadequacy, lower self-esteem, and irritability. When this continues for a period of time, nurses become subject to burnout.
Burnout is characterized by feelings of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. One study found that 40 percent of hospital staff nurses scored highly indicating burnout. Nurses experiencing burnout may find their productivity impacted, and more likely to make medical errors. Ultimately, the high levels of stress in nurses can have a negative impact on patient care.
Web Based Management for Stress in Nurses
A recent study has been done to look at the effect that web-based stress management programs have on nurses. The study looked at the web based BREATHE: Stress Management for Nurses program. They used the Nursing Stress Scale to keep track of the level of stress in nurses that participated in the study.
The BREATHE program is designed to teach nurses the skills needed to recognize and deal with stressors in the workplace. The online program has demonstrated the ability to significantly reduce the stress in nurses. Workplace stress management systems have been proven effective, but they require multiple in-person sessions.
Online programs have been shown to produce significant positive impacts on nursing stress. The online component of these programs allows nurses to manage their stress without interrupting the heavy workloads or interfering with busy schedules.
The Future of Stress Management in Nurses
As we search for ways to deal with the impending nursing shortage and relieve our overworked nurses, will online stress management programs play a larger role? Nurses and doctors already see the benefits of digital therapeutics to care for their patients. Will they trust these same sorts of technologies to help themselves?
What sorts of methods or programs have you seen as a travel nurse to help deal with stress in nurses? How willing would you be to actively use online-based stress management programs? What are some steps that hospitals and healthcare systems should take to care for their nurses and physicians?
If we don’t start curbing burnout and taking care of our nurses, we may see our entire healthcare system crumble, as we know it.