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The Impact of Stress on RNs & Our Healthcare System by Vickie Milazzo Institute


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What if the very people we rely on to treat us are so completely stressed out that they are actually the ones in need of healing? Vickie Milazzo Institute undertook a national survey of over 3,300 nurses to uncover how the stress of being a registered nurse impacts their health, lifestyle and ability to do what they're most passionate about - helping patients.

Published in: Healthcare, Health & Medicine
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The Impact of Stress on RNs & Our Healthcare System by Vickie Milazzo Institute

  1. 1. Nurses Nurses represent the largest percentage of workers within the U.S. healthcare system. With an aging population, they are critical to our population’s well-being.
  2. 2. But what if the very people we rely on to treat us are so completely stressed out that they are actually the ones in need of healing?
  3. 3. Nurses’ Stress Survey Vickie Milazzo Institute surveyed 3,312 nurses over a two-week period to uncover how the stress of being a registered nurse (RN) impacts their health, lifestyle and ability to do what they’re most passionate about – helping patients.
  4. 4. Survey Scope Our survey questions ranged from RN’s sleep habits and diet to their ability to openly communicate in the workplace and their authority to make the decisions they need to do the best job possible. The survey is highly representative of those nurses who know the healthcare system best. Over 73% of our respondents had been a nurse for 11+ years. In fact, 50% had been a nurse for 20 years or more. These are nurses who have dedicated their lives to helping others. Which makes their responses all the more important…and troubling.
  5. 5. The bottom line… Our nurses are completely stressed out and our healthcare system is broken!
  6. 6. Mission For 32 years, Vickie Milazzo Institute has been at the forefront of helping registered nurses advance their careers and improve the quality of their lives. With the current changes and uncertainty in our healthcare system, registered nurses continue to be neglected by a system that overworks, under-appreciates and marginalizes the experience of individuals who are the most connected to patients. The people who we rely on to help us need help themselves. Vickie Milazzo Institute has undertaken this survey in order to continue to draw attention to the urgent need to recognize the challenges registered nurses are facing in the workplace, the impact it has on their ability to use their expertise, and the effect it has on them as some of the most caring and important members of our society.
  7. 7. Mission This survey comes at a time when our healthcare system is putting tremendous stress on RNs to work with new technologies, conform to new government policy, and work with hospital administrations trying to provide more cost-effective care. As these changes and challenges continue to mount, they have pushed nurses to a point where they are potentially becoming unable to do what they love, helping people, in a way that is effective and sustainable for them as individuals.
  8. 8. Survey Results
  9. 9. Challenges of the Work Environment
  10. 10. RNs Always On “It’s 24-hour nursing, not 12-hr shifts.”
  11. 11. RNs Always On For the average RN, there is no downtime. With an average completion time of 03:31 minutes, 53% of our respondents completed the survey on a mobile device. Not having even 4 minutes to yourself to sit at a computer and take a survey is typical of the kind of on-the-go, “on call,” no time for themselves, lifestyle nurses are forced to balance due to the stresses and commitments of work, life and family.
  12. 12. What causes stress: “Feeling like work never gets completed and feeling that I could have done more.”
  13. 13. Lack of Authority
  14. 14. With 73% of RNs who responded to this survey having more than 11 years experience in nursing, they should feel empowered to put their experience and expertise to work. In reality, the exact opposite is true. 75% of RNs feel they do not have the authority they need to do their job effectively. Lack of Authority
  15. 15. Inexperienced management, government bureaucracy and hospital administrations focused more on the bottom-line than patients are taking the ability to provide quality care out of the hands of those most qualified to provide it. Lack of Authority
  16. 16. What causes stress: “Not having the authority to take care of the things that need to be done, but being responsible for it.” Lack of Authority
  17. 17. What causes stress: “Government bureaucracy and all the educated stupid people who have authority to make decisions about stuff they have no practical experience in.” Lack of Authority
  18. 18. Mismanagement – The Business of Healthcare
  19. 19. Mismanagement In our survey, one of the most often cited sources of stress for registered nurses is management. That nurses are forced to walk the “tightrope of navigating with integrity between nursing practice and company policy and procedures. The two do not complement one another.” Nurses’ ability to provide care is impacted both by inexperienced management focused on monetary goals and older management, still stuck in hierarchies of the past, not in tune with new challenges of care.
  20. 20. Nurses are forced to do more with less, as cost-cutting at a patient-level for compliance and profitability, takes precedence over care. What causes stress: “Not being able to care for my patients properly due to new lean values.” Mismanagement
  21. 21. What causes stress: “Employer's scrutiny on cutting costs at bedside while hirin more administrators and expensive programs to streamline services." Mismanagement
  22. 22. Respect, Appreciation and Compensation
  23. 23. •  84% of RNs stated that they do not feel respected and appreciated in some capacity within their organization. •  In fact, over a third (34%) of RNs stated outright that they are not respected nor appreciated for their years of expertise. •  This is in stark contrast to the level of respect and appreciation our healthcare system provides doctors for their work and expertise. Respect, Appreciation and Compensation
  24. 24. Nurses are the frontline of communication between patients, doctors and hospital staff. However, only 14% of RNs feel they can express themselves freely at work. In fact, 24% of RNs NEVER feel they can express themselves freely at work. As a patient, this is incredibly alarming that the individual you communicate with most at a hospital isn’t allowed to share their opinion. Respect, Appreciation and Compensation
  25. 25. In a career where individuals have extensive education and experience and are working irregular schedules of 12-hr shifts on their feet in sometimes life or death circumstances, we would think that compensation would not be an issue. And yet 40% of nurses feel undercompensated. Respect, Appreciation and Compensation
  26. 26. What causes stress: “Overworked with no relief in sight, working for $3 to $5 dollars less than average city wages.” Respect, Appreciation and Compensation
  27. 27. Respect, Appreciation and Compensation What causes stress: “Working two full-time jobs to cover bills.”
  28. 28. Impact of Stress on Nurses
  29. 29. Lack of Sleep
  30. 30. Lack of Sleep “Working nights has my routine off. I feel sleepy and lethargic all the time and I’m afraid that I will make a mistake at work.” For all workers, a good night’s sleep is crucial in being able to perform your job effectively. For RNs, having to contend with being on-call, changes in schedules and shifts impact the body’s ability to adjust and get the required sleep needed to perform at their highest level. 64% of RNs said they rarely get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night in a week.
  31. 31. Lack of Sleep What causes stress: “Working 12-hr shifts without breaks sometimes, not enough time with my kids because of work, lack of sleep, etc.”
  32. 32. Poor Diet
  33. 33. Poor Diet In an environment where nurses, doctors and nutritionists help patients focus on eating healthy, you would think that poor diet would be rare. However, access to healthy foods, tight family budgets, and the stress of having to sneak in a quick meal on a shift, lead to poor nutritional habits by nurses. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of RNs rarely eat even two balanced meals per day. Poor dietary habits impact the brain’s cognitive abilities including memory and decision-making. Nutrition impacts the physical endurance needed to work on your feet for 12 hours. And most importantly, it can mean long-term implications of being able to spend quality time with family members and loved ones. 77% of respondents do not eat properly.
  34. 34. Poor Diet What causes stress: “No breaks, nothing to eat or drink, peeing one time becaus you are overwhelmed with your workload.”
  35. 35. Personal Life
  36. 36. Personal Life 82% of RNs find it difficult to strike a work-life balance. What stresses these nurses out? “I’m a single mother of three who works full time with a second job.” “As a single mother, balancing work schedules with kid schedules and their appointments is very difficult. My work doesn’t understand my family is my first job.” “My child and who is going to watch her.” “Missing out on being home with my child.” “Having to work full time and feeling I’m short-changing my children.” “A failing marriage, working two full-time jobs to cover bills and little time with two small children.”
  37. 37. Personal Life What causes stress: “Not enjoying time with friends or family. About to get married and can’t get time off.”
  38. 38. Personal Life What causes stress: “Feeling like I'm always on call, even when I'm not. Getting texts from my boss at night on my personal time.”
  39. 39. Impact on Healthcare System
  40. 40. Impact on Healthcare System Nurses are on the frontline of helping patients. Yet they are under-appreciated, marginalized and placed in a work environment that causes major stress. The system is making the very people who treat you sick themselves.
  41. 41. Impact on Healthcare System The realities of the life of a nurse are going to cause too many of our nurses to quit, crippling our healthcare system. All this, when the population of our seniors (65+) is growing rapidly, reaching 72.1M in 2030.
  42. 42. Impact on Healthcare System All this stress is causing high levels of turnover in the nursing industry, exacerbating the industry’s nursing shortage. 340,000 to 1 million unfulfilled nursing positions are projected by the year 2020.
  43. 43. Aging Population + Growing Nursing Shortage = BIG PROBLEMS Impact on Healthcare System
  44. 44. How We Can Help Nurses Understand How Treatment of RNs Translates into Client and Corporate Success…or Failure •  Make work hours realistic and humane. •  Provide access to nutritious meals and snacks.
  45. 45. How We Can Help Nurses Give RNs a Voice •  Leverage the experience of long-time RNs, providing them with the authority to get their jobs done well. •  Allow long-time RNs a seat at the management table, balancing the “business” of hospitals with the importance of patient care.
  46. 46. How We Can Help Nurses Be a Great Leader •  Do the right thing for your RNs. •  Increase compensation and benefits for RNs and you might just become the Starbucks of healthcare.
  47. 47. How We Can Help Nurses Treat RNs Like the Heroes They Truly Are •  Take a step back and realize the many miracles your RNs are producing. •  Change the culture in your workplace. Instead of berating nurses, enforce a work environment of mutual trust and respect.
  48. 48. About Vickie Milazzo Institute Vickie Milazzo Institute is the authoritative resource center for nurses seeking to explore the field of legal nurse consulting. As the pioneers in this booming profession, the Institute is dedicated to revolutionizing nursing careers one RN at a time. Founded by Vickie L. Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD, Vickie Milazzo Institute is the nation’s oldest and largest legal nurse consulting training institute. Nationally recognized by attorneys, the CLNC® Certification is the official certification of the National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants (NACLNC®).
  49. 49. For a copy of the full survey results report, visit: rn-stress-survey-vickie-milazzo-institute For more information about Vickie Milazzo Institute, visit us online: