Staffing and equipment shortages and other issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic add to the long-standing challenges to reduce burnout among nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals.
A study published in Critical Care Nurse (CCN) identifies six self-care strategies to combat burnout. Based on interviews conducted in 2017 and 2018, the research may offer guidance for healthcare teams responding to the coronavirus. Among the findings:
- Finding Meaning in Work: Nurses and physicians alike responded that being able to care for others made them feel that their work was purposeful and meaningful. Remembering one's initial sense of purpose may renew individuals and motivate them to do what they have a passion for and love.
- Connecting With an Energy Source: Energy sources may include one's initial inspiration for becoming a healthcare professional, family support, social connections and spiritual beliefs. Helping patients and families feel better can be a driving force for healthcare providers.
- Nurturing Interpersonal Connections: Developing trusting and enjoyable work relationships can be fundamental to creating a caring and healing environment and reducing work-related stress. Giving and receiving help from co-workers and from leadership teams is key to a caring work environment and high-quality patient care.
- Developing an Attitude of Positivity: An optimistic outlook can help healthcare professionals face difficult situations and shift their thoughts to see the good in the overall picture.
- Performing Emotional Hygiene: Strategies to address psychological well-being include self-reflection, mindfulness, prayer, time with family and friends, adequate sleep and moderate exercise. Setting boundaries between home and work contributes to a healthy work-life balance.
- Recognizing One's Uniqueness: Every member of the healthcare team is needed to provide high-quality care to patients and families. Appreciating one's own strengths and contributions can help individuals find inner strength and power during difficult times.
Principal investigator Holly Wei, PhD, RN, CPN, NEA-BC, is a faculty teaching in the Graduate Nurse Leadership Concentration, College of Nursing, East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
A common issue in nurses and physicians, burnout has long regarded as a potential hazard to healthcare quality and patient safety. Developing effective self-care strategies helps promote physical and psychological well-being and reduce burnout."
Holly Wei, principal investigator
The findings are based on face-to-face individual interviews with 20 physicians and nurses from the pediatric intensive care unit and intermediate care unit at a U.S. children's hospital.
As the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' bimonthly clinical practice journal for high-acuity and critical care nurses, CCN is a trusted source of information related to the bedside care of critically and acutely ill patients.
Wei, H., et al. (2020) Self-care Strategies to Combat Burnout Among Pediatric Critical Care Nurses and Physicians. Critical Care Nurse. doi.org/10.4037/ccn2020621.