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Burnout affects approx 38% of nurses each year. Burnout is no small problem either. This can lead to a lack of empathy, a sense of dread when they go to work, and additional stress that can affect their physical and mental well-being.
Countless factors contribute to nurse burnout, from a busy day to difficult patients and demanding daily tasks. But technology has quickly been added to that list in recent years. It is growing rapidly in the healthcare sector, and while it offers efficiency and innovation, it can also contribute to increased stress and fatigue among nurses.
Technology isn’t going anywhere. The last thing you want to do as a nurse is to let the stressful side of technology prevent you from effectively utilizing it for its benefits. So what can you do to strike a balance? How can you leverage technology to alleviate burnout instead of exacerbating it?
Understanding of new technologies
Advanced healthcare technologies are designed to help both professionals and patients. They should make your work easier, but that can only happen when you take the time to do it stay ahead of the latest advances. With that in mind, some of the most popular new innovations in health technology include:
- Artificial intelligence
- Healthcare wearables
These advances can make it easier to treat and monitor patients without them necessarily entering your practice. You can connect with them digitally, monitor their progress through cloud-based services and offer support without necessarily scheduling appointments.
It can take a lot of stress off you and your patients. But it can also take things too far in the other direction. Telehealth is excellent for patients who have questions but can be abused. You may feel like you are glued to a computer or tablet all day just to keep up with questions or requests. The same goes for wearable technology. Patients may have technical issues with their devices or wonder what specific data means. When you have to play the role of an IT guru, it adds extra stress.
Virtually connected care is a great way to stay close to your patients and provide greater one-on-one care. But don’t let it tie you so much to technology that it makes you feel overwhelmed by your other daily duties.
The challenges of new technology
Many healthcare facilities across the country still rely on legacy technology – technology that uses outdated and outdated hardware and software systems. But because healthcare technology is evolving so quickly, practices are beginning to understand the importance of switching to newer systems.
Unfortunately, when you are used to working with a certain type of technology, switching to new technology can cause a lot of stress and confusion. You’ll need to be trained in new systems, learn about security and compliance, and you may experience disruptions to workflow as everyone gets used to the new programs in place. Your practice can help stop these disruptions and reduce stress by:
- Creating a schedule that allows you to work with new systems before they go live;
- Relying on experts for installation;
- To provide open communication about upcoming changes;
- Set aside time for proper training.
New technology is beneficial in many ways. It can keep things organized, improve workflow (when everyone understands it), and provide better connections to every employee and every patient. But keeping up with it is not always easy. Express your needs, take the time to train, and make sure you’re not completely dependent on these new tech types to get the job done. There is still something to be said for pen and paper!
With technology in the picture or not, one of the best things you can do to prevent burnout and manage your stress is to take care of yourself. You spend countless hours each week caring for others, but it’s easy to forget to prioritize your well-being.
Self care is not selfish. You cannot pour from an empty cup and adequately care for patients when you are exhausted, stressed or even resentful of your job.
You can use technology to practice self-care every day. The same wearable health devices you recommend to patients can help you monitor your heart rate, track your sleep and record your physical activity. You can also use technology to set daily reminders to take breaks. Sometimes you may even need to remind yourself to eat a snack or break for lunch so you don’t feel sluggish and cranky at the end of your shift.
Nurse burnout is very real and a factor in nationwide nursing shortage. Technology can help with that deficiency and can help reduce burnout, but only when used correctly. Find a personal balance and a balance in your practice to take advantage of health technology without letting it completely take over your job description.