Joint Commission tackles nurse burnout with solid solutions

The Joint Commission released its Quick Safety, Issue 50: “Developing resilience to combat nurse burnout” advisory in July.

It’s a document aimed at offering you and your employers tools to help combat nurse burnout by developing resilience.

“Burnout is a major safety issue,” said Lisa DiBlasi Moorehead, EdD, MSN, RN, CENP, associate nurse executive with The Joint Commission. “Nurses who experience burnout leave an organization and perhaps even leave the nursing profession.”

Researchers have found nurse burnout — exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency that can result from a nurse’s response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stress at work — negatively impacts not only nurses and nurse retention, but also patients.

Patient satisfaction, outcomes and safety suffer. Even mortality can increase with nurse burnout.

There are ways to help reduce nurse burnout and its consequences by giving nurses access to leadership-supported interventions such as mindfulness and resilience training.

Not all resources and strategies come from experiences in healthcare. The advisory mentions Daniel Pink’s book “Drive.” In the book, the author addresses three factors that increase performance and satisfaction:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

“Healthcare can learn from other disciplines and his three concepts to improve job satisfaction ring true for nurses in the context of what most of us want in our work,” Moorehead said.

Autonomy includes:

  • Being self-directed and part of decision making.
  • Mastery or competency to do the job well.
  • Purpose in meaningful work.

“We all want to be part of something greater than ourselves,” Moorhead said. “If any of these three are missing, job dissatisfaction can occur, and this can lead to burnout.”

Nurse leaders can build resilience at work

Nurse leaders, individual nurses and nurse faculty have roles in preventing burnout.

Lisa DiBlasi Moorehead, EdD, MSN, RN, CENP

Nurse leaders have the responsibility to create resilient work environments. Acknowledging burnout is a risk and it does exist is a first step, according to Moorehead.

“This Quick Safety encourages nurse leaders to evaluate burnout, its causes, take steps to improve or eliminate [those causes], measure improvement and then start again,” she said.

An important characteristic when building a resilient work environment is the ability for staff to discuss concerns and leaders to listen, learn and act.

“Staff have to be comfortable in speaking up about burnout and its causes, as well as other issues and opportunities for improvement,” Moorehead said. “Leaders have the responsibility to make improvements in work processes as identified by those who do the work and allow staff to participate in decisions affecting their work.”

Staff must watch for signs of nurse burnout

Staff have a role in this too. They need to recognize signs of burnout in themselves and others, so they can take steps to address those symptoms.

They also should take steps to take care of themselves and develop personal resilience, according to Moorehead.

Challenging patients or clinical scenarios and other stresses at work can erode resilience. Some nurses become overwhelmed by the challenges they face, while others thrive because they can adapt to changes and maintain fulfillment, according to the advisory.

Sometimes, it’s simple communication among colleagues that helps nurses thrive despite the challenges.

“One strategy …read more

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