Which organizational factors can reduce pediatric nurse burnout?

A government-funded study found 27% of pediatric nurses surveyed reporting burnout. Those that didn't cited open communication and unit-level teamwork as key factors. 

A new study, led by health policy researchers from Rand Corporation, and funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, surveyed pediatric nurses at an urban children's hospital to assess the factors that may or may not be contributing to feelings of burnout.

WHY IT MATTERS

The research – controlling for role, location and unit – found that higher levels of nurse burnout were linked to a greater workloads around quality improvement efforts.

"Inpatient pediatric nurses are at high risk for burnout due to high patient volumes, inadequate staffing and needing to balance the demands of patients, families and team members."

Even with the dedication to quality improvement, many nurses and clinicians become overwhelmed by what’s required to meet new QI standards and reporting requirements. 

They have questioned the value of new quality initiatives and expectations, and they do not want to hop from system to system when quality and safety are integrated into clinical processes. 

The nurses who said they weren't experiencing burnout, meanwhile, said they received frequent patient experience performance reports and felt included in quality improvement efforts. 

The takeaway from Rand's pediatric nurse burnout study is that, while more research is needed to identify the aspects of quality improvement involvement that reduce burnout, nurses who took an active role in QI processes and were more confident in the patient-experience measurement had greater on-the-job satisfaction.

THE LARGER TREND

Hospital IQ, which was recently acquired by LeanTaas, told Healthcare IT News last year that, while 90% of nurses were thinking about leaving the profession when they were surveyed, it wasn't just about pandemic-driven burnout. 

Due to technician shortages, they were "tasked with even more things outside of their respective roles, including cleaning units, procuring supplies and clerical duties as part of their typical workload," said Shawn Sefton, RN, chief nursing officer and vice president of client services at Hospital IQ, in a conversation about how technology can reduce nurse burnout.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics previously projected that more than 275,000 additional nurses are needed by 2030, anticipating that employment opportunities for nurses would grow faster than all other occupations from 2016 through 2026. 

However, nurse burnout exploded during the pandemic, increasing the need to train more nurses in the U.S. 

"Today, they face diminished ranks of colleagues to help shoulder these burdens as patients continue to depend on them. The funding opportunity announced today will support training and other programs to help advance workforce equity while bringing more nurses into the industry," Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said when the department announced $80 millon to address the shortage of nurses in October.

Others, like Prisma Health, have also stepped up with funding to counter nursing shortages. The provider is investing $5 millon to pilot a nursing recruitment program  at five colleges and universities in hard-hit South Carolina.

Rebecca Love RN, chief clinical officer at workforce-management software company IntelyCare, said this week that she expects hospitals will redouble nurse-retention efforts. 

"I don’t think there will be a lot of brilliant new ideas thrown at recruitment,"

"We’d be blind to talk about recruitment without retention tactics."

ON THE RECORD

"Supporting open communication among pediatric nurses, engaging them in QI and integrating QI into patient care while minimizing QI workload may decrease burnout," said the Rand researchers in the report.

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.