HappyNurseAuthors of the white paper, Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning and Safer Health Care published recently by the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucien Leape Institute, explain that “if we expect the healthcare workforce to care for patients, we need to care for the workforce.”

Research has shown that burnout occurs when workers spend less than 20 percent of their time performing meaningful work.  Ironically, while most healthcare professionals are drawn to their jobs by the personal fulfillment that can be gained from helping people, they often become burned out by the intense stress that they experience from working in unsupportive and even hostile environments.  This phenomenon, according to the paper’s authors, is not only damaging to medical professionals, but it can also impede patient safety.  For example, when a care giver is worn out, overwhelmed or feeling under-valued, he could let his guard down and become less prone to adhere to practices set in place to protect patients.

Researchers suggest that the solution to this problem will emerge only through a cultural transformation that elevates our nation’s care givers’ emotional and physical well-being as a top priority.  The white paper lists 7 action steps that hospitals can take to begin promoting simultaneous care for patients and their care providers:

  1. Develop and embody shared core values of mutual respect and civility; transparency and truth telling; safety of all workers and patients; and alignment and accountability from the boardroom through the front lines.
  2. Adopt the explicit aim to eliminate harm to the workforce and to patients.
  3. Commit to creating a high-reliability organization (HRO) and demonstrate the discipline to achieve highly reliable performance.
  4. Create a learning and improvement system.
  5. Esablish data capture, database and performance metrics for accountability and improvement.
  6. Recognize and celebrate the work and accomplishments of the workforce regularly and with high visibility.
  7. Support industry-wide research to design and conduct studies that will explore issues and conditions in healthcare that are harming our workforce and our patients.

To download the white paper, Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning and Safer Health Care, click here.