Tired NurseDo you know what your nurses are doing when no one is around?

Nurses are always asked to do more with less. During the course of their day, they are tirelessly caring for patients, while trying to meet the demands of leadership and healthcare. Nurses are pressured to finish their endless duties within the scheduled time of their shift, while administration cuts down on overtime.

These impossible expectations lead one to ponder the following questions:

  • How do they balance patient care and leadership demands and what suffers?
  • Does the care of the patient suffer?
  • Has clinical practice suffered due to time restraint?

As I connect with nurses and leadership, I have found that there is a struggle to manage the demands of administration and patients. Competing priorities cause the patient and caregivers to be caught in the middle, and as a result both suffer. Patients and families feel the effects posed by potential errors and lack of adequate care. Nurses and health professional are stressed and overwhelmed trying to complete everything while keeping their heads above water. Nurses feel like they are not able to do their job adequately and care for their patients the way that they want to. However, healthcare administrations are demanding quality care and higher levels of patient satisfaction as reimbursement is linked to these indicators.

I hear from nursing educators that more tasks are being reported as completed, but aren’t done. Important clinical practices like foley insertion and aseptic technique are performed haphazardly, causing infections and increasing length of stay. This is a big problem, so we must ask ourselves the question: What can we do to help? How can nurses care for patients adequately while meeting the demands of their job?

Here are some things to help improve this dichotomy:

  1. Identify the problems with your team and brainstorm ways to streamline and reduce work burdens.
  2. Set up priorities of care, including what is most important and what can be passed along.
  3. Create an open door policy to talk about issues and frustrations.
  4. Identify tasks that can be completed by other disciplines.