Can Nurse Care Team Assistants Prevent Burnout Before It Gets Out of Control?

By Kyle Cooksey, president, CareThrough.

Kyle Cooksey

Unfortunately, nurse burnout has reached epidemic proportions. That’s not to illicit hopelessness, rather it’s a call to action.

Nurses comprise of the largest healthcare workforce in the United States. According to The American Nurses Association, by 2022 there will be more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession in the US. And with an aging population—those of the Baby Boomer generation are moving towards increased health care needs—now is the time to look for resources to prepare for the future.

For context, in 2011, 41 million Americans were over 65 and in 2019 that number rose to 71 million. The number of Americans over 80 years old reached 12.7 million in 2018 up from 11.2 million in 2010. Aptly called “the graying of America” this trend is one to take note of for healthcare administrators who may be seeing a few grays too, as they try to prepare their workforce for the future.

The good news is that we’re beginning to understand and reduce the stressors nurses face that can accelerate turnover. The industry is taking note and conducting nurse surveys to get to the heart of the matter.

Through our research at CareThrough, we’ve learned that nurses on the front lines face a myriad of forces hindering their ability to deliver quality care. From increased patient ratios, understaffing, overtime hours coupled with a shortage of nurses due to many leaving the profession, it’s no wonder health systems nationwide are concerned with nurse burnout, and how best to curtail the effects.

Solutions

One health system implemented routine check-ins with nurses, utilizing 60 and 90 day periods to ensure morale remains high, and to solicit feedback. This method, though incredibly important, still leaves nurses unsupported during the time between check-ins. In another hospital I visited, nurses were supported with nurse techs, although sometimes there was only one tech per unit. As you can imagine, several nurses relying on the support of only one tech performing clerical and clinical duties may limit the level of optimization health systems would like to gain.

Every day, similar scenarios of imbalanced support take place in hospitals and Emergency Departments across the country. Nurses, overburdened by administrative duties, lack the bandwidth to deliver the most effective patient care. Working long hours coupled with a feeling of overwhelm lead to lack of job satisfaction. Depression poses a health risk to nurses themselves.

At CareThrough, we’ve found that embedding dedicated, highly skilled support adds value simply and efficiently. For successful nurse workflows, Nurse Care Team Assistants, under the supervision of nurses, are able to mitigate the daily burdens of patient care. CTAs comfort round on patients, take vital signs, perform ancillary tasks, assist with hydration, blood draws and much more to ensure nurses work top-of-license.

The nurses we’ve surveyed report having a dedicated CTA to answer call bells improved patient satisfaction while allowing the nurse to focus on the task at hand, uninterrupted. CTAs also update the Electronic Health Record, a near constant task nurses must complete as they deliver patient care. The benefits of deploying CTAs includes nurses working top-of-license throughout their shift while also leaving on time and the reduction of overtime costs allows the healthcare administrators to redirect resources to patient care initiatives. Despite the challenges, we predict nurse CTAs will soon be identified as the missing link needed to solve the nurse burnout conundrum.

In today’s value-based care environment, measuring quality of patient care is tied directly to the bottom line, and receives the most attention. Supporting the compassionate nurses who deliver that quality care is no longer a choice, it is an imperative.

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