Nurse burnout: Shortage declared a global health emergency

The International Council of Nurses declared nurse shortages a global health emergency, with 13 million nurses needing to be replaced globally in the coming years.

The ICN said the burnout driving the shortage "has been relentless, intense and a continuing drain on nurses' energy, morale, and physical and mental health," according to a March report.

The council said health systems and lawmakers should focus on the effect their rebuilding decisions will have on individual nurses and the broader workforce.

"If policymakers focus only at the system level and ignore the impact on nurses, then nurse retention and longer-term supply will worsen," the report said.

Healthcare leaders can mitigate some of the crisis by avoiding placing too many projects on staff, Jerry Dunlavey, interim president and CEO of Middletown, N.Y.-based Garnet Health told Becker'sBecker's.

As it stands, the dynamic is something of a vicious cycle. Burnout has pushed nurses out of healthcare, causing staff shortages. Staff shortages then lead to existing nurses feeling increasingly overworked and burned out.

"Leaders need to stop and check the pulse of the organization's culture, because culture can add to burnout," Mr. Dunlavey said. "We must accept that everything cannot all be accomplished at once. We must focus on what is most important right now."

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