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Empower nurses to have work-life balance—Part 1

By Karlene Kerfoot, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Chief Nursing Officer, GE Healthcare, Workforce Management and Molly McCarthy, RN, MBA, Chief Nursing Strategist, Microsoft on May 8, 2017

Filed under Health

Graphic of nurses holding a laptop

It’s National Nurses Week, a time to recognize the dedicated and compassionate individuals who give their heart and soul to the profession of healthcare. It’s an opportunity to not only honor those who have made taking care of others their life’s work, but to think about how we can take better care of nurses themselves. This is especially true this year with the National Nurses Week theme being: “Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit.”

Many of the frontline nurses and health leaders we speak with every day are concerned about nurses’ heavy workloads. If nurses are overworked or unhappy in their jobs, it can lead to burnout and exhaustion that affects not only their wellbeing and job satisfaction, but patient care.

Taking care of those taking care of patients has become such a vital issue in healthcare that the Triple Aim has evolved to the Quadruple Aim—the fourth aim being to address clinician and staff satisfaction. It’s increasingly being recognized that happy, healthy staff is crucial to achieving the other three aims—improving patient experience, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita cost of care.

Professional nursing organizations are taking a stand on the issue and have identified effective staffing as one of the key strategies for improving nurses’ work-life balance and wellness. For example, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses offers six healthy work environment standards that include appropriate staffing as well as true collaboration and effective decision-making.

As health organizations digitally transform, they’re finding that today’s technologies can help them align with such standards in innovative and efficient ways. For example, cloud-based workforce solutions make it possible for nurses to go online and choose their shifts so they’re a part of the staffing process and can create their own schedule to have the work-life balance they need. Visibility and analytics across a health enterprise can help balance staffing needs with nurses’ availability and preferences. And algorithms can help match nurses skills with patient needs for acuity-based staffing, which improves job satisfaction.

In our next blog, we’ll share more about how a best practice workforce strategy can facilitate staffing that leaves nurses feeling empowered, energized, and happy in their work. So stay tuned for that blog at the end of this week on the nurses’ blog.

It will take a village to transform healthcare and achieve the Quadruple Aim. That’s why Microsoft and GE Healthcare work together every day on eHealth solutions that can help foster a healthy working environment for caregivers. Nurses Week happens once a year, but the compassion and dedication nurses bring to their patients never stops—neither does our commitment to nurses.

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