The Currency of Satisfaction and Appreciation in Addressing the Nursing Shortage

Exhausted Nurses

Bob Abrahamson, Chief Marketing Officer

Last Wednesday, August 25, our local school board met to determine if there would be a mask mandate in place for the school opening on August 31.  The public comments portion of the meeting lasted about 3 hours.   What struck me beyond the strong emotions expressed on both sides of the issue was an undercurrent of incivility during the meeting.  Tense is an understatement.  

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.  The news has been fraught with tales of extreme rudeness throughout the summer as businesses struggle to get back on their feet in the face of labor shortages.  A couple examples can be seen here in the hospitality industry and here for airlines.  Which brings me to the challenges of the growing nursing shortage.

In a recent survey conducted by McKinsey, 84% of respondents shared that the nursing shortage was impacting facilities.  That same study revealed that open positions are up almost 4 points while the turnover rate has increased almost 5 points to 16%.   Add to that the increased demands from facilities and patients on the nurses that remain and it’s no surprise that we see an increase in both burnout and job switching for higher salaries.  To combat this facilities are using a combination of retention bonuses and using higher salaried travelers to cover the gap.  But this is not sustainable.   `

Layer on top of the shortage the fact that nurses are not immune to the types of verbal and physical abuse found in other industries.  The days of banging pots and pans at 7pm to celebrate the frontline workers seem a distant memory.  Review this chilling story from Methodist Hospital in San Antonio to see how bad things have gotten.    Money can only take you so far.   Across the board, and especially for nurses, we need to take steps to improve job quality by investing in the currency of satisfaction and appreciation.  It makes good business sense as the McKinsey report tells us because the nurse shortage is negatively impacting both outpatient and inpatient capacity, ED waiting times, and length of stay.  It’s also the right thing to do.

At pCare, we understand that the foundation of a positive patient experience and meaningful patient engagement rests on patient and provider collaboration.  That is why we developed our technology with an eye toward improving experience for all stakeholders, especially nurses.  Job satisfaction takes many forms.   At one end of the spectrum, nurses want to be engaged in meaningful work; engaged in patient care and practicing at the top of their license.   To aid in that, our system includes a number of capabilities that empower patients to manage non-clinical tasks such as ordering a meal, changing the room temperature or lighting, placing a service request for cleaning, that not only provide patients a sense of control in an unfamiliar place but allow nurses to focus on clinical care.  A win: win.

On the other end of the spectrum, nurses want to know that they are having an impact, that their care matters.  By fostering collaboration and communication, the pCare Interactive Patient Care System(IPS) helps improve patient self-efficacy in their ability to manage care post-discharge.  As was shared by Cathy Markey, RN, MSN, CCRN-K, TCRN, at Einstein Healthcare in Philadelphia, “the (IPS education) view rates are giving the staff a sense that patients are leaving the facility with a solid understanding of how to manage their diabetes which makes the team much more confident in the quality of care they are able to provide to our patients.”

As important as job satisfaction is for nurses, showing appreciation to staff also matters and is a great motivation for staff retention.   Saying “thank you” can go a long way.  pCare helps facilitate staff appreciation with TruthPoint Rounds leadership surveys that enable management to collect the data and share the stories on when and where superior care was delivered.  Via integrations with partner organizations such as DAISY and Wambi, patients can also use their pCare system to access nurse recognition programs that facilitate personalized thank-you’s that mean so much to staff. 

Nursing can be a difficult job.  COVID has added stress to all our lives yet it’s fair to say that for nurses and front-line health workers, the challenge has been felt more widely and acutely.   Short term financial gains cannot solve all the issues surrounding the nursing shortage.  Investing in the currency of satisfaction and appreciation can go a long way toward improving quality of life for those working so hard to keep us healthy.

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