As in most professions, when you are happy and more satisfied with your career, there is a tendency to do a better job. Nursing is no different and recent studies have shown a correlation between nurse job satisfaction and better patient outcomes. The National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) has tracked data indicating that as nurse’s job satisfaction increases, infections rates decrease and injuries due to falls decrease commensurately. The NDNQI also shows that increased job satisfaction over a two-year period resulted in decreased incidents of pressure ulcers by as much as 59%. Nurse happiness and job satisfaction is the August theme for the American Nursing Association’s Year of the Health Nurse Campaign, so it makes sense to review the resources that are being shared this month in helping nurses cultivate happier and healthier work environments.
Healthcare professionals work in a stressful environment, and according to an article by Kara Theal, MA, BSN, RN-BC, nurses have to find opportunities to infuse laughter and humor in their work-life. We already know about the health benefits of laughter, including lowering blood pressure and stress, but it is also an important factor in cultivating camaraderie and teamwork. The challenge lies in being cognizant of the appropriate timing and place for humor at work.
In the work environment, much of the culture and style is influenced by the administrators on down through the managers and staff. That said, it is a tried and true axiom that both job satisfaction and patient care improves when the work environment values teamwork. Nurses have the ability to influence the spirit of teamwork by developing it within their own work groups. The benefits of teamwork serve to foster a collaborative environment, reduce stress, increase efficiency, and improve patient satisfaction. Teamwork starts with mutual respect among the nurses. One of the most damaging activities impacting team cohesiveness is gossiping, and it can be policed and controlled by the nurses themselves. Another way you can influence the development of teamwork is by advocating for a pre-shift huddle. Studies have shown that a brief (10 minutes or less) status update encourages communication between team members, improves awareness of staff assignments, alleviates confusion, and creates opportunities for staff to support one another.
Another challenge to nurse job satisfaction and happiness are feelings of burnout and emotional exhaustion. Recent studies have shown that nurses practicing the ancient art of mindfulness can reduce levels of emotional exhaustion and stay on a more even keel. The studies have shown that practicing mindfulness for as little as two weeks will begin to demonstrate results in how nurses handle stress. The ANA has posted an online webinar, ‘Cultivating Mindfulness’, as part of the August, Year of the Healthy Nurse activities. Mindfulness is achieving a state of nonjudgmental attentiveness and awareness of moment to moment experiences. Everyone can learn about and practice mindfulness and incorporate the activities into their daily life at home and work.
What actions do you take to improve team building in the workplace? Do you have advice for young nurses on how they can adjust to being a nurse and avoid the pitfalls of burnout and exhaustion while staying satisfied in their career? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below or visit us on Facebook.