Current Landscape of Nursing Environment and the Risks Associated with Nursing
Across the country, nurses are quitting their jobs at an alarming rate. These nurses are worn out—both mentally and physically following two years and counting of the Covid pandemic. Caring for Covid patients even after the vaccines have become widely available has added yet another layer of distress to on-the-job nurses. Further, during the pandemic, personnel shortages and pandemic restrictions on who could enter patients’ rooms resulted in nurses delivering meal trays, mopping floors, even cleaning bathrooms, and serving as the patient’s surrogate family when families were not allowed to visit.
Nurses who remain on the job have fewer resources, and a higher nurse-to-patient ratio, leading to harm to patients and healthcare providers. Understaffing is a major cause of nurse burnout, increasing the workload of nurses, while simultaneously making nurses feel undervalued by their employers. Incidents of nonfatal violence against nurses increased by 60 percent from 2011 to 2018, and while the numbers have not been updated, there were many more verbal and physical incidents of violence against nurses during the pandemic than usual.
While nursing has always been a tough job, it has consistently gotten more burdensome, with many more nurses planning to leave their nursing jobs. According to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, a whopping 66 percent of acute and critical care nurses have considered leaving their profession over the past year. Since virtually everything that touches a patient goes through a nurse’s hands, when the nurse’s personal resources are depleted, the level of care will also drop, potentially leading to patient complaints.
It is estimated that there may be as many as 200,000 openings for registered nurses by the end of 2022—yet only about 150,000 individuals receive their RN license annually. It will take a system-wide change to address the issues creating nurse burnout and the high turnover rate. Perhaps the most important thing hospitals can do to recruit and retain nurses is, paradoxically, to employ more nurses. Nurses facing risks to their license should contact a nursing license defense lawyer from Forshier Law, LLC.
What Are the Most Common Risks to Your Nursing License?
While there are many potential risks to your nursing license, the following are the most serious:
When nurses are stretched thin, many negative outcomes can result. These include:
- An increase in patient mortality
- Decreases in patient satisfaction as patients must wait longer for responses to call lights and receive less face-to-face time
- Dynamics with co-workers are strained—even a necessary bathroom break can result in co-workers becoming resentful as they must cover even more patients
- Nurse burnout increases dramatically
- Overworked, stressed-out nurses are more likely to call in sick, increasing the understaffing issue even more
- The turnover for nurses increases significantly
- Neglect and abuse of patients increases
- Hospital expenses increase due to sick, stressed employees, overtime pay, and unhappy patients
According to nursingtimes.net, a Finnish study found that when nurses have an excessive daily workload, patient safety incidents and deaths increase. In fact, when a nurse’s workload goes above optimal level, the chances of a patient safety incident increase by 30 percent, and the odds of a patient dying increase by 40 percent. A reduced workload gives nurses more time to care for and observe each patient, reducing the risk of adverse events.
Nurse Compassion Fatigue
Compassion fatigue is one of the leading contributors to nursing burnout. While compassion fatigue and nurse burnout have similar outcomes, they are also different in many ways. When nurses experience physical and mental exhaustion along with the emotional withdrawal experienced by those who care for very ill patients over an extended period of time, compassion fatigue can result. Compassion fatigue is detrimental to nurses, but also to patients and healthcare organizations. The consistent exposure to patients undergoing extreme tragedy and trauma makes it very difficult for a nurse to remove himself or herself from the situation which leads to compassion fatigue. Other factors that contribute to compassion fatigue include increased workload, longer work hours, staffing shortages, time constraints, and a lack of professional and personal boundaries.
Nurse burnout can be defined as emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion resulting from prolonged work stressors. These stressors may include:
- Lack of resources
- Too many hours on call (working more than 40 hours per week)
- Ineffective management and leadership
- Working in a high-stress environment
- Sleep deprivation
- Compassion fatigue
Nurse burnout causes many nurses to consider exiting the field of nursing and can lead to depression, fatigue, chronic headaches, insomnia, increased frustration, lack of motivation, negative feelings, and reduced psychological energy. This includes resisting extra shifts and overtime whenever possible, seeing a therapist who specializes in nurse burnout, or taking yoga or other types of relaxation classes.
How Can I Defend Myself Against Losing My Nursing License?
The single most beneficial thing you can do to ensure you do not lose your nursing license is to speak to the highly experienced nursing license defense lawyer at Forshier Law, LLC. The allegations against you may or may not be true. Either way, having adequate legal support and ensuring all required tasks are completed within the required timeframe is essential. You should refrain from speaking to an investigator or from signing anything until you have spoken with attorney Barbara Forshier. Barbara was a nurse for over 35 years before becoming an attorney, representing nurses whose licenses are at risk. This means Barbara understands the challenges associated with nursing better than other attorneys. Barbara will review the allegations against you, carefully explaining the potential outcomes. You can take the following steps to further protect your nursing license:
1. Clearly communicate the information you have to others
2. Document, document, document
3. Always follow your facility’s policies and procedures to the letter
4. Don’t rely on co-workers—if something is your responsibility, you must ensure it is done correctly
5. Keep your social media profiles private
6. Always assume someone could be watching you, so ensure your actions at work are above reproach.
How Forshier Law Can Help Defend Your License
Attorney Barbara Forshier will deal quickly with any risks to your nursing license, working zealously to advocate for healthcare professionals. Barbara cares for nurses like nurses care for their patients—in a compassionate, understanding, and highly experienced manner. Forshier Law, LLC is a small firm dedicated to defending healthcare licensees before the state licensing board. Barbara provides practical, professional advice based on her recent, extensive nursing and legal experience. Contact Forshier Law, LLC today.