By Margaret Hanlon-Bell, CEO of Saegis
This week is Nursing Week. And this year, it is more important than ever to pause and reflect on the contributions of nurses in Canada, as well as the challenges they face.
Nurses are the front lines of healthcare and show an unyielding commitment to those who are at their most vulnerable. You may have a friend or family member who works as a nurse. Does he feel depleted by a difficult exchange he had with a colleague during an urgent moment? Does she carry the burden from a day where she felt that she was unable to speak up about a critical issue of patient care?
Nurses were already facing a demanding environment ensconced in cultural norms of ‘name you, blame you, shame you’. The pandemic has only added to these challenges, including the strain from overburdened facilities, an increasing administrative workload, and a severe shortage of staff.
In the health and patient care industry in Canada, 66 per cent of nurses reported burnout in 2021. The Canadian Nurses Association reports that on average, one in five nurses working in Canadian hospitals leaves their job each year.
I studied to become a nurse because I wanted to make a difference, because I was deeply motivated by the idea of caring for others and doing my own part to make the world a better place. While I moved on from nursing, the call to create positive and sustained change continues. The only difference is that now I want to help make a difference not only in the lives of patients, but also in the lives of those who care for the patients.
This Nursing Week, I am thinking about how incredibly grateful I am for the care that nurses continue to provide for myself and my family. This gratitude fuels my determination to help support the health and wellbeing of our nurses.
How can we prevent nurses from burning out and leaving their profession? The solutions are varied and complex, of course. But the one piece we need to talk about more is the importance of building and supporting a healthy workplace culture. When staff feel safe to voice concerns and suggestions, when systems and processes are clear, when communication is professional and effective, not only will patients receive better care, but our healthcare professionals will remain well too. So, to all nurses in Canada, I don’t just thank you – I wish that you are well, that you feel trusted and safe, and that you can enjoy more of the joy that brought you to your calling.