Let Nurses Be Nurses

During Nurses Week, the medical community formally acknowledges and celebrates the people that patients thank every day. Nurses are among our “everyday heroes.” They are tireless caretakers, helping us through times of great joy and of immense fear.

But our current system is wearing down our nurses, despite their personal motivation. Their everyday heroics have as much to do as overcoming administrative challenges and senseless process bottlenecks as caring for our ill. One-third of U.S. nurses report emotional exhaustion scores that indicate high burnout, stress, anxiety, emotional detachments and chronic fatigue. Burnout impacts patient care, cascades to other providers, and causes nurses to leave the profession.

Isn’t it time we helped our nurses save for the heroics for the moments they really matter?

Nurses are lifesavers
Simply put, nurses are lifesavers. On a day-to-day basis, they coordinate all aspects of patient care. In times of crisis, they are never the weak link but rather the strongest. Here are a few stories from recent emergencies that I found particularly inspiring:

  • During the California wildfires, Julayne Smithson could see her neighborhood burning as she cared for a critical patient. During evacuation, she and her team manually bagged her patient, even while they pushed him, in his bed with all the monitors, through the parking lot to avoid fast-moving smoke and flames.
  • In advance of Hurricane Irma, neonatal nurse Debbie Boudreaux coordinated the transport of NICU newborns from Corpus Christi to Ft. Worth to prevent them from harm.
  • Lorisa Loy, was attending the Las Vegas concert when the shooting broke out. She pushed a wheelchair-bound concert-goer to safety, then spent the night transporting victims, even with a broken ankle.

The Cook Children’s team evacuating NICU infants in Corpus Christi.
The Cook Children’s team evacuating NICU infants in Corpus Christi. Photo: Courtesy of Cook Children’s

The Sutter Santa Rosa team evacuating critical patients
The Sutter Santa Rosa team evacuating critical patients. Photo: By Associated Press / NBC | Posted: Mon 12:08 PM, Oct 09, 2017

Stories, like these, of superhuman effort and commitment help us find the good in horrible moments.

It shouldn’t be this hard to be a hero
Nursing is hard work. So many little things add up to make it even harder for nurses to care for patients. They are often pulled from the bedside for medical audits, chart reviews, increased record-keeping and analysis of data and reports. Healthcare technology can pile on more work when it should streamline processes and remove the friction from the day-to-day….nurses spend a third of their time with the EHR(7). Bottom line: nurses shouldn’t have to use their superpowers for mundane operational tasks.

Health systems leaders need to find tools and support that make daily work smoother for nurses so they can focus on care. That’s where artificial intelligence-based solutions can help. Tools that reduce operational and administrative tasks, that deliver the information nurses need when they need it, so they can make better decisions in the moment it matters most. Health facilities will run more smoothly, patients will get better care and outcomes. Better support can help prevent burnout from our strongest caregivers, honoring the care provider while at the same time avoiding huge costs from turnover. Current estimates place the average cost of turnover of a nurse at $37,700-$58,400 and takes 85 days. At 17%+ turnover rate, nurse burnout can cost a hospital $5.2 million to $8.1 million annually in staffing loss.

At Qventus, we are grateful to nurses for the care they deliver to patients, families and co-workers, navigating the countless tasks that surround patient care. Our team is committed to working with health systems to simplify how healthcare operates, alleviating some of the operational burden, so nurses can use their super powers for people, not process.

Clara Barton