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The nursing profession is confronting a shortage of epic proportions due to a perfect storm – burnout, compassion fatigue, and extensive attrition. To stave off this crisis, it’s time for an overhaul and only an innovative solution will do.
First, let’s look at the current situation. Seventy percent of nurses feel burnt out, according to a study by RNnetwork. Heavy documentation requirements, long hours, overwork and high stress make this an extremely demanding profession. In fact, the study found out that a nurse’s workload, poor work/life balance and the nursing shortage are key factors contributing to their stress.
Unless action is taken, and quickly, the stresses that nurses are facing will only increase. Nurses, a critical part of healthcare and making up the largest part of the health profession, are typically on the frontlines of care. As our healthcare system becomes increasingly stretched by an aging population and greater access to public health care, our nurses will shoulder an even greater burden.
Overwork and stress are caused in great part by the nation’s dire nursing shortage and an increasing need for healthcare. Due to a larger number of patients, demand from baby boomers who are retiring and expect to live longer and more active lives, and educational logjams, nursing roles simply can’t be filled in time to match demand.
In fact, given that nearly 60 percent of the RN workforce is 50 years or older, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) states that one million of the 3.8 million registered nurses in the United States will retire and leave the work force between now and 2030, presenting the healthcare profession with a dire loss of knowledge and expertise, and the all-important mentoring function. This will create even bigger staffing burdens than today, leading to more overwork and burnout.
So where does this leave us? In only two years, more registered nurse jobs will be open than in any other profession, says the American Nurses Association. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the U.S. will need an additional 200,000+ nurses per year from now until 2026, adding up to more than one million additional nurses. And this is only in the near future. By 2030, the country will need a total of 3.6 million new nurses.
Add to this the cost of replacing just one new nurse – $82,000 plus onboarding and training costs –creating a tremendous financial drain for healthcare institutions.
Why the erosion in this profession?
One fact is that the country simply can’t train enough nurses. The nation’s nursing schools are straining to expand their scope to meet the growing need for care. According to an AACN report, “U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 75,000 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2018 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and clinical preceptors, as well as budget constraints.”
In addition, the intensity of nursing care is increasing. As the nation’s nearly 80 million baby boomers age, three out of four people older than 65 have multiple chronic diseases, making it more medically complicated to manage care. This leads to even more stress and burnout.
Nurses also are assuming more responsibility for patient care. A recent poll revealed that four out of five nurses are taking a greater role in managing patient care than two years prior. Again, these are factors contributing to higher levels of stress and burnout.
Finally, and not surprisingly, too much paperwork is one of the top three reasons cited among half of the nurses who are considering leaving the profession, according to a recent survey. Another survey showed that paperwork took up a majority of nurses’ time, with the nurses surveyed reporting they have to “document patient care information in multiple locations, in addition to having to complete logs, checklists and [perform] other redundant paperwork.” These administrative chores prevent them from doing what they want to do most – patient care.
In fact, the administrative burden has become so bad that in a New York Times article, one nurse is quoted as saying, “It’s gone from the human touch to ‘get it done and get it billed.’”
A Revolutionary Solution Is at Hand
Being able to spend time with patients is a nurse’s foremost intent. Now, there is an innovative new solution enabling them to do so, which will combat burnout and stress, and make the profession more attractive. The solution is to pair nurses with Nurse Care Team Assistants (Nurse CTA), who are responsible for documenting patient care and complete additional ancillary tasks under a nurse’s supervision. This relieves the nurses of onerous paperwork, allowing them to spend high quality time with patients and more actively oversee patient care. Just as Medical Scribes have proven to lighten physicians’ workloads and reduce burnout, the same support holds true for nurses.
An enlightening example of how Nurse CTAs can help was recently implemented at AdventHealth in metro Orlando, where the facility cares for more than two million patient visits per year. Initial results from a pilot program using Nurse CTAs showed that “staff responsiveness (a measurement of the patient experience) improved by 12%, lab turnaround time improved by 13% and 73% of nurses said they feel they are able to spend more time with patients when assisted by a Nurse CTA.”
“This pilot is helping me be the type of nurse that I dreamed of,” Christine Reyes, a registered nurse at AdventHealth Altamonte Springs is quoted as saying. “I became a nurse because I wanted to show compassion to people who need it most, and this pilot is allowing me to do that even more.”
CareThrough, a HealthChannels company provides Nurse CTAs, and is the 360-degree care management solution that provides workflow optimization to facilities by improving quality of care, patient engagement, and financial outcomes. As healthcare transitions to value, CareThrough leads the way in improving the patient care experience via highly-skilled ancillary support, improving the entire patient experience leading to better health results.
Since 2020, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, is the Year of the Nurse, it makes sense that a solution has finally arrived to honor all those who follow in the footsteps of the “Lady with the Lamp.”
Patients who are paired with Care Navigators report feeling less anxiety, and an increased ability to self-manage their conditions between visits. And providers report increased job satisfaction from improved efficiency, and knowing their patients have access to care teams, and strategic support.
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