A Team Approach to Avoiding Burnout

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Illustration by Leo Acadia

In today’s rapidly changing health care system, a variety of factors—from sicker patients, to increased patient loads, to the need to master new technology—contribute to creating a “burden” on hospital-based nurses that can induce stress and lead to burnout, reports post-doctoral fellow Maya Shaha, PhD, RN, and others, in a study under-taken in small county hospitals in Switzerland.

Shaha and colleagues worked with nursing teams at the hospitals to explore the situations causing “burden,” design interventions for improvement, and evaluate the effectiveness of such plans. At one hospital, for example, nursing teams created a catalog of nursing interventions—from providing sponge baths to administering medication—and prioritized each item, discussing how and when compromises could be made. For example, says Shaha, during “overwhelming” periods, all nurses could be in accordance with the policy that “brushing patients’ teeth is more important than going on rounds with physicians.” Team-level interventions like this one that apply problem-based nursing methods, and interventions that provide new knowledge, hold promise of addressing and alleviating burden on nurses, she says. Shaha completed the study, published in the April/June 2007 issue of Nursing Administration Quarterly, under the guidance of senior associate dean Anne E. Belcher, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN.

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