The role of a nurse is a complex one. Not only is this individual responsible for the physical bedside care of multiple patients, but may also be called upon to offer emotional support for patients and their families. While this is an absolute honor and a privilege, it can also be emotionally draining and lead to burnout syndrome or compassion fatigue. In order to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care, we must make sure that nurses have support for their own emotional well-being.
I’ve worked in healthcare for more years than I care to admit – as nurse, manager, supervisor, researcher, panelist, educator, preceptor and mentor. When I first started practicing, patients on the medical and surgical floors of today would have been in the ICU.
The technology and capacity to extend life creates new levels of complexity in care. Yet reports indicate the number of experienced clinicians at the bedside is shrinking. About half of the registered nurses in the U.S. have diplomas or associate degrees and the other half are prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher. Less than one percent of our registered nurses are doctorally prepared. An estimated 33 percent of the registered nurses currently working in the hospital setting will retire within 12 years.