Intensive care nurses on the verge of burnout

Intensive care nurses on the verge of burnout
Medical staff. Credit: Belga

The Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE) has called for support after a study revealed that nurses are on the verge of burnout, quitting their job or leaving the profession entirely.

The study was published on Friday by the KCE, with the report calling for a plan to attract nurses to intensive care units (ICU) and ways to motivate them to stay.

50% of respondents answered the survey, with the KCE focusing on intensive care and what can be learned from the pandemic.

Work environment

Work environment is a key factor – the risk of burnout is 2.4 times greater in hospitals with a bad work environment. Similarly, nurses who want to quit their jobs are 2.1 times more likely to do so in organisations with a bad work environment.

Although by law, intensive care nurses should be charged with no more than three patients, that is not the case in many hospitals. In reality, absenteeism and the fact that head nurses are often occupied with other management responsibilities in management means that nurses are often over-stretched.

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For the KCE, the training of nurses isn't valued enough despite the fact that almost all intensive care nurses have at least a bachelor's degree and nearly 80% have training that focuses on intensive and emergency care.

The Covid-19 pandemic shows that ICU staff are hard to replace, and their expertise is often wasted on tasks that don't require specialised nursing skills, the KCE stressed.

The KCE, therefore, urges the federal authorities to create a plan for the sector that has "better recognition, adequate remuneration, promotion of training and staffing in accordance with international standards."

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