April 24, 2013 5:53 pm
Updated: April 25, 2013 7:39 am

Are Nova Scotia nurses and doctors burned out?

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HALIFAX, NS — 485 licensed practical nurses and registered nurses took part in a survey about job satisfaction, quality of care and staffing shortages. The president of NSGEU says she’s waiting for nurses week in early May  to release the results, but reveals the study will be alarming.

“I think it’s going to be very alarming to the public certainly, and it should be very alarming to the employer,” says Joan Jessome.

Jessome also revealed that her members have expressed concerns over workload.

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“They’re being swamped by paperwork and getting further and further away from the patient, from the bedside, and it’s really taking a toll on why they got into nursing,” she said.

Michael Leiter, who’s spent 25 years researching burnout, says heavy workloads can lead to exhaustion.

“The things that drive burnout are quite relevant to how health care is evolving these days,” he explains, “one thing that drives it is just having too much work to do.”

In fact, in a 2011 study, 38% of surveyed physicians with Capital Health admitted feeling overwhelmed, a sign of burnout.

That survey was done two years ago, but Capital Health’s Organization Development leader says she suspects those results haven’t changed.

“It’s really aligned with what we see across Canada in health care right now,” said Diane Leblanc,  “physicians and nurses and even people who are not necessarily providers but work within the system do report a fair amount of burnout.”

So what can be done to reduce burnout? And can experts develop something that’s effective in reducing those rates?

Leiter says he hopes he will help answer those questions with a national study and has recently applied for funding from the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

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