As nurses we’ve all said it, “I love my job, but I am physically and mentally exhausted!” A new Kronos survey of 257 hospital-based registered nurses (RNs) has since validated this to be true. The results of their survey indicate that within the United States (US), 93% of RNs are satisfied with their career choice; however, 98% discuss the physical and mental demands of the job, demonstrating that fatigue is a pervasive problem among RNs.
Another interesting finding is that 44% of these surveyed nurses report that their managers are unaware of their fatigue and 43% are not open to discussing their work-related fatigue with them.
Achieving a better work-life balance may be the cause of US hospitals losing nursing staff, as 83% report that qualified nurses are leaving hospitals to seek a better work-life balance with other employers.
These levels of fatigue are leading to job burnout which is supported by the findings of this survey. Kronos reports that 63% of the RNs surveyed have experienced job-related burnout, with 41% considering employment with other hospitals.
These levels of exhaustion can have significant and potentially dangerous consequences with 56% of night shift nurses reporting drowsy driving—some of which have had to pull over to rest and 28% of nurses having to call in sick to be able to rest due to these levels of fatigue.
In addition to these consequences, many nurses surveyed fear fatigue-related mistakes, have made mistakes due to fatigue, and also express concern over patient suffering because of their fatigue. Eighty-three percent of surveyed nurses report helping nurse colleagues due to their levels of fatigue which warranted a break.
Why are RNs so tired?
- Sixty percent report excessive workloads.
- Forty-two percent report lack of lunch and dinner breaks while on shift.
- Forty-one percent report lack of shift breaks.
- Twenty-five percent report lack of sleep between shifts.
- Twenty-four percent report fatigue related to long, 12-hour shifts.
What can help?
More than half of the surveyed nurses agree that having more control over their schedules would aid in relieving work-related fatigue. While hospitals are trying to address this issue, many fall short.
Only 60% of nurse’s surveyed report an employee-based wellness program, 31% report enforced meal breaks, and 14% report enforced timely shift changeovers to leave on time. In addition, 20% report that they are not offered employee-based programs.
“This survey shows that it’s time to care for the caregivers. It also confirms what we instinctively know – nurses are compassionate, hardworking professionals who love what they do,” said Director of the healthcare practice group with Kronos, Susan Reese, DNP, MBA, RN, CPHIMS. “A fatigued employee at risk of burnout is not an engaged employee. Combating fatigue can be achieved by giving nurses more control over their work schedules, ensuring they have regular breaks, along with offering adequate rest periods between shifts and access to health and wellness programs. These benefits will ultimately help nurses, patients, and hospitals and health systems.”
- Kronos Incorporated. Kronos Survey Finds That Nurses Love What They Do Though Fatigue is a Pervasive Problem. 2017 May 8.