Nurses are at the very heart of a healthcare system that is only becoming increasingly challenging. The fact that they continue to provide their irreplaceable care in the face of talent shortages, Covid-19, resource shortages, and the general high stress environment of any healthcare institution is testament to what a calling taking up a registered nurse job actually is.
Anyone who has gone through the fairly long and complex process of becoming a registered nurse is someone whose personality is characterized by a great deal of empathy, compassion, emotional (and physical) strength, and an unbreakable commitment to patient care. Health Jobs, an online healthcare recruitment service, say that the stream of nursing talent that passes through their organization and onwards to positions in healthcare institutions remains of a remarkably high quality.
However, nurses are, like anybody else, only human. The very modern challenges such as considerable amounts of stress, poor work-life balance and, ultimately, burnout affects nurses just like it affects any other medical professionals working in the same stressful environment. If these factors do not lead to a complete breakdown and the consequent absence from work, they can at least lead to a breakdown in the level of engagement shown by nursing professionals.
The Dangers of Poor Nursing Engagement
There is an undoubted danger inherent in unengaged medical staff. Before looking for ways to improve it though, it is important to note that this is not a reflection of any professional shortcomings on the part of the nurses themselves. Or, at the very least, it really should not be. The focus needs to be on preventing this happening in the first place. Not challenging the abilities or commitments of nurses it may happen to.
Be that as it may, unengaged nurses are a danger. There is just too much responsibility in their hands. A nurse tends to a patient much more often than any surgeon or doctor will. You can consider surgery or other treatments as one-off events, and the care provided by nurses as the many hours before and after that prepares a patient for the procedure and helps them recover from it afterwards. A lack of engagement here can be downright perilous, as we are sure you don’t need reminding.
Strategies for Boosting Engagement
So, what can be done? Here follows some innovative strategies, already being practiced in healthcare institutions across the country, which are tackling the current crisis:
This is also known as maximizing talent. Nurses are not drones. They have a lot of expertise, and they will nearly always have opinions on how to improve the functioning of any given healthcare institution. Accordingly, letting those voices be heard is one of the means by which the situation of low engagement can be tackled. There’s real talent here to be drawn on.
Teamwork is sometimes a meaningless buzzword within corporate culture – not so in healthcare. Nurses never work alone, and for an efficient team, a degree of the aforementioned involvement is required and there needs to be a sense of camaraderie built up. Accordingly, minimizing talent churn is one of the means of realizing this.
Accessible and Responsive Leadership
When things get really bad, nurses need to know that there are people they can turn to as well as provisions in place to mitigate the effects of overwork and burnout. If a nurse is assured of this, then they will give their all regardless of the challenges. They know there is a safety net for them should they fall.
To improve nursing engagement, we need to prioritize nurses themselves, their needs, their expertise, their opinions, and their health.