42% of Nurses Skip Meal Breaks, Per a Recent Survey
In a recent survey conducted by Kronos Incorporated, titled “Employee Engagement in Nursing,” the data reveals a complicated relationship between job satisfaction and fatigue among registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. While 93% of RNs express satisfaction with their career choice, an overwhelming 98% acknowledge the physical and mental demands of the job, indicating that career contentment coexists with substantial fatigue.
According to the survey, which garnered responses from 257 RNs working in hospital settings, nurse fatigue is a pressing issue. It is concerning that 44% of respondents feel their managers are unaware of their exhaustion, and 43% admit to actively concealing their tiredness. Moreover, 83% state that hospitals are losing quality nursing staff to corporations and other sectors that offer better work-life balance. As for solutions, 55% of nurses believe having more control over their schedules would considerably mitigate fatigue.
Susan Reese, Director of the Healthcare Practice Group at Kronos, emphasizes that it is crucial to “care for the caregivers.” She argues that a fatigued nurse is an at-risk, disengaged employee and that the healthcare industry should invest in nurturing its nursing workforce. This investment could include more flexible scheduling, regular breaks, sufficient rest periods between shifts, and access to health and wellness programs.
Consequences of Nurse Fatigue
The consequences of nursing fatigue are far-reaching. A staggering 85% of respondents disclose that their work leads to overall fatigue, which has several ripple effects:
56% of nurses, and 70% of those working night shifts, have driven home drowsy.
44% are concerned that their fatigue negatively affects patient care.
37% worry about making errors due to exhaustion, with 11% admitting they’ve made mistakes because they were too tired.
28% have called in sick just to catch up on rest.
Among the primary causes of fatigue are excessive workloads (60%), inability to take breaks during shifts (42%), and lack of sleep between shifts (25%). Interestingly, 24% of nurses also point out that 12-hour shifts significantly contribute to their fatigue.
Burnout and Job Retention
The survey indicates that fatigue can be a stepping stone to job burnout, with 63% of nurses confessing that their work has led to burnout. Furthermore, 41% have considered changing their hospital of employment in the last year because they felt burned out. These findings should raise alarms for healthcare organizations, as 90% of nurses contemplate leaving their current jobs for roles with better work-life balance.
Scheduling Preferences and Solutions
When it comes to scheduling, 47% of nurses reveal that nurse managers are responsible, while 35% say they have control through self-scheduling. However, when asked who should ideally handle this task, 43% prefer self-scheduling, indicating a desire for more control over their work-life balance.
While most nurses (86%) feel their scheduling preferences are somewhat considered, 49% think their fatigue would reduce if they could easily swap shifts with colleagues. This resonates with the 60% who believe better control over their scheduling would improve their work-life balance and the 55% who think it would alleviate fatigue.
Efforts and Shortcomings in Combating Fatigue
Although 60% of nurses acknowledge the existence of a wellness program in their hospital, only 31% feel their employers ensure they take meal breaks, and a mere 14% say they are guaranteed to leave on time. A concerning 20% state their employers offer no program to help combat fatigue.
To effectively address the issue, nurses suggest better scheduling (55%), more breaks (47%), health and wellness programs (41%), and more effective management of overtime (35%) as top solutions.
Job Satisfaction Despite Challenges
Despite these challenges, 93% of nurses find overall satisfaction in their roles, and 77% feel energized by their work. Team support also appears significant, with 83% helping a colleague who needed a break due to exhaustion, and 75% stating their team is crucial for their survival in the demanding field.
The Kronos survey serves as a wake-up call for healthcare organizations, shedding light on the complexity of nurse satisfaction, fatigue, and the pressing need for systemic changes.