Managing Your Nurses: Longer Hours Could Lead to Patient Dissatisfaction

It is not uncommon for a typical nurse’s work shift to last 12 hours or even more. However, studies do show that these extended work hours lead to job fatigue and burnout as well as directly affecting the level of care the patients feel they have received. Eight-hour shifts are becoming extinct and longer shifts are intended to give nurses a better work/life balance by providing a shortened workweek. However, nurses who work these shifts are more dissatisfied than nurses with more traditional shifts. In order to create a better environment for your nursing staff, here are some things you may consider.

  1. Respect for nurses’ time off.  When a nurse has a vacation it is important to allow them that break away from the facility to recharge. They will return to the job refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things. Make it a policy not to contact nurses during their time off.
  2. Ensure the nurse leaves promptly at the end of their shift. It isn’t uncommon for a nurse to stay after their shift to finish whatever work they weren’t able to accomplish while dealing with patients. Establish a routine that encourages nurses to leave promptly when their quitting time comes around. This will keep them from resenting the organization.
  3. Refusal of overtime hours without retribution. Overtime is commonplace in the nursing industry and those who want it should have access to it. Alternately, nurses who are not able to work overtime hours should not be punished for their refusal. Nurses who refuse overtime often feel that they are not given the same consideration as their co-workers while on the job. Do not treat nurses differently if they choose not to work overtime.
  4. Open management style. Your staff needs to feel comfortable coming to you directly if they have a problem. Encourage open and honest communication. This management style will allow nurses to feel more comfortable when they need to approach their managers with awkward situations or problems that need solutions.
  5. Teamwork based environment.  Nurses are also happiest when they like the people they work with. Develop the team by planning activities to strengthen their relationships with one another. Host a lunch once a month to give everyone a chance to interact socially with one another. Also, encourage veteran nurses to take new hires under their wings.

The morale and overall attitude of your nursing staff is very important not only for their peace of mind but also for the comfort of the patients. Are you looking for someone to manage your staff? Contact the Washington DC healthcare staffing professionals at NRI to see how we can help you!

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