During a special meeting recently with the Italian Catholic Association of Health Care Workers to celebrate their 40th anniversary in Rome, the Pope himself addressed the very real threat of burnout in healthcare works.
Pope Francis made it clear that he believes nurses should not only be recognized for their work but be equipped with the tools they need to properly care for their patients and themselves.
It’s not every day that nurses get a shout-out from the Pope, but the message didn’t go unappreciated. Truth is, the threat of burnout and the lack of self-care among nurses is not only dangerous to the individual nurses who are suffering but to the entire healthcare industry as a whole.
A video of his remarks on YouTube showed Pope Francis criticizing how healthcare has become synonymous with “efficiency” and that the much-advocated “cost reduction” in healthcare often comes at the costly price of inadequate patient care.
“The effort to treat the sick as people and not as numbers have to be made in our times,” he said emphatically in his address. “We have to take into account the form the health system has progressively adopted.”
He went on to praise “forgotten” or even “despised” healthcare workers who are doing the important work—in his eyes, of course, it’s God’s work! “In an environment where the sick person becomes a number, you run the risk of being ‘burned out’ by tough work hours, the stress of emergencies or emotional impact,” the Pope explained.
“It is therefore important that health workers are properly supervised in their work, receive recognition for the tasks they perform and can use the appropriate tools to always be motivated and trained,” he added.
At first glance, the Pope is speaking out about nursing burnout might not seem like a big deal. But the truth is, it’s a really big deal. With mounting responsibilities, more tension over staffing ratios, and increasingly sick patients, the threat of burnout affecting nursing care only continues to grow.
We would like to think that the world supports the important, life-saving work that nurses do day and night, but when it comes down to it, not everyone “gets” how truly difficult nursing can be.
There may be some who think nurses have tons of time during their shifts to indulge in some rigorous card-playing, that nurses “only” clock 3 shifts a week and have pretty much endless time off, and that nurses essentially equate to a well-paid waitress. This mentality carries over into the policies, procedures, and cultures that shape the environment that nurses will work in.
Fortunately, we now have it on pretty good authority that not only is the work provided by nurses among the most important in the entire world, but that nursing is so emotionally and physically demanding that it deserves worldwide recognition—and action from the healthcare community to address, prevent, and treat burnout.
Talking about self-care and burnout is a step in the right direction, but what can you do if you are already feeling burned out? Here are some suggestions for tackling burnout as a nurse:
The truth is, nurses are caring for patients each and every hour of the day and night, so who’s going to make sure that the nurses are taken care of too? Well, it’s up to all of us—and even the Pope agrees.
This article was originally published on Nurse.org on 20/6/19 by Chaunie Brusie.