Nursing represents almost one half of the healthcare workers; therefore, is the largest healthcare provider group of Canada as well, remarkably high diversity in tasks, generations, and culture creating a work environment where there is a tremendous amount of stressors that have the potential to arise (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014). Stressors are physical, social, and psychological in nature, they are continually present in the workplace, nurses experience a variety of internal and external stressors that leads to experiencing high levels of pressure and nurse burnout (Lewis & Cunningham, 2016). According to Duxbury, Armstrong, Drew, and Henly (1986), burnout is defined as psychological syndrome where an individual’s behaviour manifestation of inability to cope with continuous high-level of stressors that is ubiquitous to nursing combined with deterioration of physical well-being. When exceeding over one’s personal endurance burnout is usually associated with heavy workloads, inadequate staffing, job dissatisfaction, and absenteeism resulting in emotional and attitudinal exhaustion experiencing a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbances, irritability, suspiciousness, rigidity, and cynicism (Duxbury et al., 1986).
As a leader it is critical to moderate the development of burnout in nurses, to support and defend staff members that are in need, while achieving policies and making decisions to enhance the productivity of the unit (Duxbury, et al., 1986). The purpose of this essay is to critique and analyze the issue of burnout experienced by a multitude of nurses within the workplace and as a nurse leader, how will I function and improve the outcome of this issue. Nurse leadership is a vital component to obtain to ensure that the unit is pursuing policies and accurate procedures to achieve high levels of productivity, moreover, addressing staff members concern, and attentiveness to self to create a workplace that optimize performance and well-being (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014).
When leaders fail to perform positive working conditions, staff struggle to achieve delegated tasks, they become exhausted and hinder the performance of quality care and patient safety, however, both the staff members and the unit may encounter burnout (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014; Laschinger & Leiter, 2006). There are many serious issues that a leader shall address in the light to decrease burnout for all nurses and ensure patient safety is transpired. Conditions such as organizational management, work design issues, organizational culture and the way nurses are deployed in current inpatient settings, as well, inadequate staffing, high emotional and physical demands, heavy workload, job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and turnover can have the potential to present in one’s behaviours when or have experienced burnout (Laschingerm ; Fida, 2014; Laschinger ; Leiter, 2006).
According to Schaufeli, Leiter, and Maslach (2008), in the 1970s, was when the concept of burnout emerged and still today continues to portray the similar experience among people. Burnout and the stressors/factors that may eventually lead to burnout contributes to the statistics demonstrated within a nursing career. Burnout can affect students within a Bachelor of Science in Nursing undergraduate degree program, experiencing around an average of 30 percent attrition, but have been as high as 50 percent attrition in some cases (Merkley ; McKelvey, 2016). In the nursing workplace today, 13 percent of new graduates nurses leave their position within the first year (Laschinger, Wong, ; Grau, 2013). Approximately 66 percent of the nurses’ experiences server burnout due to negative working condition on the unit (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014). These statistics translate into 340,000 hours per week of work time loss, and this is equivalent to 9,754 full-time nursing jobs due to absenteeism, resulting in a nursing shortage worldwide (Laschinger & Grau, 2012). Burnout continues to participate as a major influence in the nursing workplace, many experiences begin as a nursing student and carrying the experience throughout the aging careers of nursing.
Rella, Winwood, and Lushington (2008), have suggested that burnout can be experienced during the period where students are studying to obtain a four-year Registered Nursing undergraduate degree. Nursing students encounter the most strain when completing their full-time practicum course requirement’s/integrated practicum, working for financial support and studying for the theoretical coursework (Rella, Winwood, ; Lushington, 2008). Many factors such as finances, the demands of clinical experience and course load, family, health, and a lack of free time placed a burden on the students as the course progressed over the four years (Rella, Winwood, ; Lushington, 2008). These factors allow students to be exposed to high amounts of strain and stressors that have uprooted within the early stage of one’s career, with the potential to cause damage at a cellular level of the stress response, which is capable of affecting health, overall performance, and recovery (Rella, Winwood, & Lushington, 2008). According to Rella, Winwood, and Lushington (2008), an increase amount of distress experienced while completing a nursing undergraduate degree as the capability to lead to impairments after graduation, or even leaving the profession prematurely.
A Nursing student is mentored for four years when attending the clinical setting, then you graduate and become a professional nurse. This transition from student nurse to professional nurse is a turning point for most new graduates that may become highly stressful when adjusting to the new reality of practising nursing. Burnout in new graduates has been related to the lack of support and confidence, unmanageable workloads, absenteeism and turnover intentions, low organizational commitment and depression (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014). Also, Laschinger and Read (2016), suggests that new graduates are at high risk to experience incivility from other coworkers and with the unfamiliarity of incivility in nursing, one of the actions that leaders need to approach is to provide coping strategies and support to prepare new graduate nurses for the workplace norms and incivility that could arise.
New graduates are vulnerable to burnout, nevertheless, baby boomers that have been working since the 1970s and are experiencing burnout as well (Schaufeli et al., 2008). In 2015, it was estimated that 40 percent of nurses over the age of 30 have experienced burnout (Holdren, Paul III, & Coustasse, 2015). One’s vulnerability to burnout is not an essential prerequisite, the working environment and the increasing technology requirements are big contributors for burnout in Baby Boomers and Generation X due to aging and facing problems regarding physical stress and family and work conflict (Schaufeli et al., 2008). Nurse Leadership has a significant influence on the quality of the nursing work environment, with saying this, creating a prosperous working environment is key to obtaining an environment where nurses are engaged, and it is not detrimental to the health of the staff nor the patient.
The quality of the working conditions and patient safety on the unit is influenced by the leader. Research by Canadian Nurses Association CNA (2008), supports that nursing leadership is a continuum that evolves and an essential determinant of vibrant working environments to which high quality care is practised and nurses feel safe, respected and valued. Nurses have an ethical obligation to collaborate and ensure safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care is provided (CNA, 2008). Work environments that obtain exceptional support and feedback, job clarity, autonomy, and low levels of complexity in their work, structure, and leaders that influence social support, relational aspect of work, well-being, and job satisfaction are associated with supportive leaders and decrease burnout in nurses (Kanste, 2008). To improve the outcomes of nurses experiencing burnout, as a leader I would strive to develop an authentic leadership style. Authentic leadership style is a positive leadership style that emphasizes self-awareness, honesty and transparency, behaviour integrity, and consistency (Laschingerm ; Fida, 2014; Laschinger ; Read, 2016). Authentic leaders focus on one’s strengths instead of their weaknesses, build trusting relationships and encourages openness in collaborating information to make decisions by implementing four types of behaviours such as balanced processing, relational transparency, internalized moral perspective, and self-awareness (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014; Laschinger & Read, 2016). A leader that pursues balanced processing will strive to gather and analyze as much information as possible, both negative and positive before committing to a decision (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014). A relational transparency engages openness, sharing and encouraging others to share their thought, feelings, ideas, challenges, and opinions (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014). Internalized moral perspective are one’s internal moral standards and values that influence behaviours and decision-making (Laschingerm ; Fida, 2014). The fourth behaviour is self-awareness, when a leader acknowledging one’s own strengths and weaknesses and understands how they affect others (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014).
As an authentic leader I would strive to achieve these four behaviours that an authentic leader pursues as a result of obtaining a positive trusting relationship between myself, and the staff and being genuinely interested in self-growth as well the growth and development of staff, high levels of work engagement, job satisfaction, and patient quality care (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014). Additionally, advocating and collaborating with others to promote health and safety of patients and self, establish own competence, and being mindful of own health (International Council of Nurses, 2015). According to Laschinger and Read (2016), an authentic leadership role as a beneficial influence on burnout in new graduate nurses, in a way that increases level of empowerment and decreased emotional exhaustion and incivility within the workplace, providing a supportive role, and creating a workplace environment that influences member and the unit to have a phenomenal experience.
In conclusion, burnout within the nursing profession is an issue for the nurses, patients and especially for the nurse leader. Burnout affects all aspects in nursing, as a leader it is important to identify these stressors, to minimize or even eliminate nurses from experiencing burnout. Every nurse has the potential to experience burnout, but new graduate nurses are at the highest risk due to negative working conditions (Laschingerm & Fida, 2014). When nurses experience burnout they become emotionally exhausted, depersonalization, and decrease personal accomplishment, which leads to job dissatisfaction and poor quality of care (Kanste, 2008). However, with effective authentic leadership the factors that generate the issue of burnout, should be addressed and create a workplace environment involving the four behaviours to successively keep nurses engaged, decreasing the burnout rate and improve the quality of the unit and patient care.