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The Squeeze, Vol. 16: Who Cares?

The Squeeze, Vol. 16: Who Cares?.

Nurses can’t care for us if we don’t care for them.

What’s going on?
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is helping to salvage the diminishing nursing workforce by empowering nurses to come together to create the positive change needed for each other and their profession.

The healthcare industry’s staffing crisis is most prevalent among nurses, which represent the largest segment (30%) of the workforce and the providers with the most patient contact. The nursing profession alone is expected to see ~200K new openings every year between 2022-2030.

It’s a vicious cycle: short staffing leads to burnout, burnout leads to turnover, and turnover leads to more short staffing… and so on. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (the nation’s largest public health philanthropy) conducted extensive research with thousands of nurses to hear firsthand what’s driving the diminishing workforce, and what needs to be done to address it. Here’s what they found:

  1. Nurses join the profession for human connection and want to help drive transformation beyond the bedside (e.g., reducing health disparities). But it’s hard to provide the compassionate and patient-centered care that they were trained and want to provide when they’re stretched and stressed. Patients who receive poor care are often getting that care from a burned-out provider.
  2. RNs experienced more workplace injuries than construction workers in 2020. After 12-hour days of life-or-death decision making while also facing belittling, sexism and bullying, pizza parties and Nurses Week posters – though appreciated – are a drop in the bucket. Nurses need mechanisms to report unsafe working conditions as well as real support (e.g., therapy) to deal with the repercussions of them.
  3. Nurses crave authentic conversation with each other in a safe space outside their jobs to help solve each other’s problems and share their daily experiences. Unfortunately there are limited opportunities for such exchange. And so SHIFT was born, an online community created by and for nurses – anchored by a podcast and documentary – and built on bonesdeep authenticity. It is bringing the nursing community together, inspiring them to stay strong and motivated to make a difference.
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What's The Squeeze?
Adequately addressing the nursing shortage will take mitigating nurse burnout with true, systemic support at the national level.

Luckily, resources like SHIFT are becoming available for the industry to leverage. Nurse leaders have been encouraging their nurses to leverage it as a resource to gather, share, laugh, and cry without fear or judgment… realizing that providing their staff with support doesn’t have to mean going at it alone, and that the voices who make the greatest impact with nurses are their own.

And for the health systems still working through their organizational strategies, the RWJF recommends that they:

  • Talk to and listen intently to the needs of their HR leaders and recruiters, nurse leadership and the nurses themselves. Consider giving nurses a few minutes before their shifts begin to share stories and check in on their emotional wellbeing.

  • Ask nursing students after their clinicals for feedback as to what could be better and what would make them want to work there.

  • Incorporate nurses’ desires into the overall mission of the organization, empowering them to provide the best possible care to their patients.

  • Walk the walk, because nurses can smell out spin and inauthenticity and empty promises do more harm than good.

Related Insights.

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For more information, please contact
[email protected].