Burnout common among ICU nurses, study finds

Feeling burned out is a common complaint from nurses in the field, but what’s less prevalent are tried-and-true solutions to solving this issue. One nurse, in a social media post last week, went so far as to call the problem a Rubik’s Cube. The Critical Care Societies Collaborative, however, is attempting to get to the bottom of this problem, and just last week released a new study in the American Journal of Critical Care detailing some ways to address it. Upward of 33 percent of critical care nurses show symptoms of “severe burnout,” and as high as 86 percent show at least one of three telltale signs of such stress, according to the study. It offers ways to combat burnout in the intensive care unit, including enhancing the work environment and helping nurses and other clinicians to cope with what can be a traumatic and challenging workplace. “With more than 10,000 critical care physicians and 500,000 critical care nurses practicing in the United States, the effects of burnout syndrome in the ICU cannot be ignored,” Curt Sessler, M.D., senior author and immediate past president of the American College of Chest Physicians, said in a statement. “We believe that protecting the mental and physical health of health care professionals who are at risk for burnout syndrome is vitally important for not only the professionals but for all stakeholders, including our patients.”

Pet peeves for critical care nurses

Keeping things in the intensive care unit, there is an interesting discussion brewing over at allnurses.com on some of the biggest gripes these RNs have about their jobs. The person who started the online discussion is just entering a job in the ICU and wants to know any potential land mines to avoid in the new role. According to those who chimed in, common pet peeves include not asking for clarification about a task, moving without a sense of urgency, failing to help out peers with their patients, ignoring monitors (sometimes due to alarm fatigue), or being careless with sterile techniques. What are your biggest bones to pick with fellow ICU nurses?

5 Common factors fueling nurse turnover

Turnover and retention are other hot topics in nursing, and they are costly ones. It’s estimated that each nurse departure in his or her first three years on the job costs hospitals as much as $67,000 per case or $2.1 billion annually, according to new research in the International Journal of Nursing Studies. This new report, put together by researchers at New York University, takes a closer look at internal turnover of nurses, which occurs when professionals move into new roles or positions within a hospital. They pegged this internal turnover rate at about 30 percent, which is in addition to those completely leaving an organization, and is higher than previously reported in studies. NYU researchers found five common factors that influence the retention of newly licensed nurses — holding more than one job for pay, whether their first degree was a baccalaureate or higher; negative affectivity; greater variety and autonomy; and better perceived doc-nurse relations.

Giving on-call nurses a little reprieve

Hospitals are aiming to give groggy on-call nurses and docs a rest with the help of a new position some are dubbing as “nocturnalists.” Rather than phoning nurses who have already worked a shift late at night for assistance, instead, these institutions are putting an experienced doctor on shift at night to help check in on patients. Some, such as Boston Children’s, were early adopters of this practice, the Boston Globe reports, while others are more recently catching on and putting out ads seeking applicants. In 2014, about 81 percent of adult hospitalist groups had a doc on staff overnight, up from just 55 percent a few years prior. Recruiting physicians for these hours can be tough, but some relish the slower pace and lack of staff meetings throughout the day. “Night call is really busy,’’ said John Nelson, M.D., a physician at Overlake Hospital Medical Center outside Seattle, tells the newspaper. “It always feels wrong when a nurse calls me at 2 a.m. and I want to be asleep and we need to talk about this patient … . It makes sense to have somebody in the building.”

Rapid fire

Here are a few more nurse-related items that caught our eye the past week, in rapid fashion:

  • The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is being forced to pay some $250,000 and put in place prescription drug safeguards after a nurse stole almost 100,000 opioid painkillers, the Seattle Times reports.
  • A Piscataway, N.J., woman was recently charged with aggravated assault after breaking the nose of a nurse at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, MyCentralJersey.com reports.
  • Veterans groups and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners have launched an advertising blitz, pushing the VA to expand scope of practices for advanced-practice nurses.
  • Finally, the nursing shortage is hitting the Illinois town of Decatur hard, according to the Herald & Review. Here’s how hospitals there are coping.