Why Healthcare Culture is the Key to Transforming Today’s Care Delivery Models
What’s the Situation with Healthcare Culture?
Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry, in the sense that a hospital only stands as tall as its nurses. They are the frontline workers who work tirelessly to provide quality care to patients, too often sacrificing their own well-being in the process. It should come as little surprise that more and more nurses are deciding that working long hours, in high-stress situations, isn’t worth the pay and stress.
The reality of the situation is that the current state of the nursing workforce and healthcare culture is not sustainable. The industry is facing a shortage of nurses due to various reasons, including burnout and dissatisfaction with the work. Without fundamental changes in the value employers place upon nurses and the “work” of nursing, the industry will continue to lose nurses, jeopardizing the quality, safety, availability, and affordability of patient care.
The Issue is Nurse Retention!
To be completely clear, the healthcare industry has been struggling to retain nurses for years, very few of the problems facing us now are new, just occurring on a larger scale than before due to the culture. The existing healthcare culture, high workload, long hours, and stressful work environment have resulted in many nurses burning out, and eventually asking themselves “Is what I’m getting paid worth this stress? Could they even pay me enough to stay?” Statistically the answer to this question has been “No” which leads to nurses not just quitting the hospital they work at, but leaving the profession entirely.
Pandemic Panic Punishments!
In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these problems, forcing an already shrinking pool of nurses into performing strenuous, but necessary, quarantine procedures. Throughout the pandemic nurses were not just dealing with the high amount of pandemic-panic that the public was, they were doing it while working long hours, dealing with intense emotional stress, and facing a much increased risk of infection.
This has resulted in over 100,000 nurses leaving the profession or taking a leave of absence. The result is that turnover continues to compound creating a situation that has become untenable, and the healthcare industry needs to take urgent action to address these issues.
Healthcare Culture is a Path Forward.
There is no one answer to these problems, and it will take multiple solutions to solve each of these problems. One of the most theoretically simple solutions is creating a culture that prioritizes the satisfaction of both staff and patients. This means creating a work environment that is safe, supportive, respectful, and empowering.
Healthcare organizations need to recognize the importance of the mental and emotional well-being of their nursing staff and take steps to ensure both. This includes providing opportunities for professional development, offering mental health and wellness support after traumatic cases, and continuously recognizing and rewarding staff for their hard work in a significant and lasting way.
Focus on Collaboration and Communication.
One way to create a healthcare culture that prioritizes the satisfaction of both patients and nurses is to simplify collaboration and communication between nurses and other healthcare professionals. When nurses are encouraged to work collaboratively with doctors, therapists, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals, they are more likely to feel valued and engaged in their work.
How can this work be made easier? Is there technology that can support these efforts? More than just nurse satisfaction, making it easy for nurses to be involved in creating their work allows for a critically important point of view to be expressed.
Promote Work-Life Balance!
Another important aspect of creating a positive healthcare culture is promoting work-life balance. Nurses don’t just need time to rest and recharge, they need the time to be there for the people in their lives. Work-life balance isn’t about making sure your employees have enough time to eat, bathe, and sleep between shifts; It’s about making sure that your employees have what they need to give a hundred percent at work and at home.
This means offering flexible schedules (are 12 hour shifts the right thing for everyone? Are there alternatives?) allowing for time off, and providing resources for stress management and self-care. When nurses feel supported in their personal lives, they are more likely to be engaged and productive at work; this, in turn, leads to better patient outcomes and improved staff satisfaction.
In conclusion, the healthcare industry needs to prioritize the satisfaction of both patients and staff to address the ongoing shortage of nurses. Creating a culture that is safe, supportive, empowering, respectful and aware is essential to achieving this goal. Healthcare organizations need to take a proactive approach to addressing the mental and emotional well-being of their staff, promoting professional collaboration and communication, and promoting work-life balance. By doing so, they can create a work environment that is not only sustainable but actually attractive to new nurses, ensuring that all patients receive the quality care they deserve.