Sunrise Hospital is a general health facility located in the North Eastern region of New York. The hospital has a bed capacity of 300. Over the last couple of months, the hospital has undergone some very stressful situations with the nursing personnel as a result of an increased number of patients per nurse. This was caused by the closure of a nearby hospital that was a competitor of Sunrise General Hospital. This has seen many of the competitor’s patients seeking medical attention from Sunrise. In addit5ion, the number of casualty patients has more than doubled due to the strategic positioning of our hospital.
This has seen Sunrise Hospital acquire all the workload of the hospital which has led to not only great amounts of profit, but also a resultant strain in the nursing personnel. The nurses have had to work longer hours and take less time off duty in an attempt to carry out their duty, saving lives. Associate managers have in the same period been presented with complaints from nurses over the poor working conditions the nurses have been subjected to as a result of the changes the hospital has been experiencing.
The grievances never reached the hospitals senior management. The management thought it would a sign of incompetence if they were to forward these complaints to the senior administration. In addition, the management could not find a workable way of addressing the nurses’ issues in a speedy and efficient manner. This led to a strike that had been organized in unison by the nursing staff on a busy day due to the tremendous amount of workload the nurses had been subjected to.
The upper management found out about the strike on the day it took place and could not do much at that point but contain the situation at hand with whatever parameters they could. Increased workload created by an increased number of patients and the same number of nurses made it impossible to give utmost care to patients and also presented a case of unfavourable working conditions to the nurses. As a result, nurses at Sunrise hospital have been subjected to work related stress, burnout and also poor motivation to work under great stress.
How could Upper Hospital Management have better Prepared its Staff?
To begin with, there is need to hire a competent managerial staff that takes to consideration the needs of the hospital paying attention the adverse effect the opposite would have to the hospitals mission. Due to the awareness of the closure of a close competitor, the hospitals top management ought to have communicated with the managers in order to fish for suggestions from the management that is expected to understand the ground issues of the hospital and its staff.
In addition, a quick survey should have been suggested to monitor the effect of the closure of the competing hospital on the performance of nursing duties. Findings from this survey should have been used in determining corrective measures that would ensure the prevention of the situation the hospital found itself in. Through communication with management, and staff, the senior management could have figured out the levels of strain being faced by the nurses.
The nursing staff did their part by informing the management of their shortcoming. However, by ignoring to present the problem to senior management, the managers failed in communicating the issues that were later to cause the hospital great problems. In as much as the executive management hires the services of the hospital management to oversee the activities of the hospital, an added follow up should have been conducted to ensure the smooth flow of activities at the hospital. In addition, there should be the possibility of direct communication between, the hospital staff and the executive management, the patients (client) and the top managers, and even outsiders.
In an environment of excessive bureaucracy, open communication is almost impossible, a condition that makes it impossible for the top management to be aware of problems being faced at the ground level. This is because many officers concentrate more on covering up for their incompetency. Open communication can be achieved through the incorporation of secured suggestion boxes where patients, nurses and outsiders can present their grievances, gratitude or suggestions either anonymously or with identity. In addition, there should a direct yet fast communication path such as email or fax to the upper management suggesting reasonable changes or forwarding grievances that may lead to acute improvements in the hospital.
This move should not be used by management to suggest distrust by the upper management of their capabilities but as a move to ensure adequate and speedy communication of issues that directly affect the running of the hospital. In an unfortunate situation, this step may be abused by indiscipline users of this channel of communication. Some members of staff may use it to jeopardize others’ jobs, blackmail or some unsatisfied patients may even do it to express their intentional lack of satisfaction. This channel will also be successful only if the management takes it as a serious issue and takes to secure it and follow up on the issues presented. In addition, the management should investigate the issues fully before implementing counter measures.
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In addition, the hospital should put into complete cooperation, the use of memos. The top management ought to have served the nurses a memo to let them know that it is okay to forward any complaints to the executive management. This would have created a pathway for the nurses to write a memo to the top management informing them on the poor work conditions, possibly eliminating the plotting of a strike.
In this situation, the application of telephones would have been adequate if the nurses formed a union within the hospital and asked their leader to either call the top management or emailed them after the failure of any actions being taken after communicating with management. This would only be appropriate after several failed attempts to communicate the matter with the management lest they seem to be trying to jeopardize the management’s duties. Nurses are sworn to do their best in saving lives, a task they should take up with diligence and zeal. As a result, they incorporate efforts that ensure they achieve their duties to the fullest (Arikan, Köksal & Gökçe, 2007).
Better efforts to prevent the problem by the upper management include the hiring of additional help (American Nurses Association, 2006). The executive management ought to have anticipated the increased work load to the nurses. As a result, the hospital should have considered hiring more nurses to take care of the increased number of patients. This would have led to an improved or maintained quality of care accorded to patients at Sunrise Hospital.
Moreover, this would have led to the reduction of burnout and other work related stresses experienced by the nurses at the time resulting from lesser work hours and relatively more time to rest. Due to the realization of super profits by the hospital, the executive management should have found it necessary to invest in facilities that reduce work related stress in nurses and other personnel. Such facilities include a fitness centre, a recreational centre and any other that they might find fit for their particular situation. Job descriptions in the nursing profession may prove to be very draining both physically and emotionally.
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Nursing can be a traumatic profession. On a daily basis, nurses deal with injured, depressed, dying and other sorts of patients (Piko, 2010). This kind of situation is bound to have an effect on the psycho-physical structure of the concerned nurses. By taking breaks to indulge in physical or recreational activities, nurses are in a better position to recover from burnout and work related and other external stresses that may otherwise affect their work output (American Nurses Association, 2006).
These facilities may also be used by patients in physio or emotional therapy to the commercial advantage of the hospital. It is said that money is the best motivator. The hospital management ought to have considered giving the nurses a pay raise as they were dealing with more cases per day. This would have reduced the grievances and actually motivated the nurses to work hard and efficiently. Other benefits offered to the nursing staff may also be included or improved to improve nurses’ motivation. Such may include medical benefits, insurance and pension rates.
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Attitudes and Perceptions
Attitude refers to actions and thoughts towards an idea, someone or something. Perception on the other hand is the outlook or the idea one has about some event, someone or something. In this case, the negative perception of the nurses led to the strike. The perceived increased load of work was unfavourable to them especially with the knowledge that they were on the losing end while the hospital gained. They also perceived the lack of action as the hospital executive management’s negligence of their cry for improvement in the situation. This is why they conducted the strike.
In addition, the nurses thought it to be a neglect of its duty by the hospital management to fail to address the problem of understaffing. The nurses found it absurd to work long extra hours, attend to more patients without sufficient rest and pay while the hospital made and kept all the profit. In their defence, the nurses may have thought it to be selfish of the hospital to make and keep all the profits while their needs were not taken care of.
These perceptions led to a situation of poor attitudes of nurses towards the hospital and their nursing duties as a result of the management having a neglecting attitude towards their needs. Job satisfaction is important to every employee (Arikan, Köksal, & Gökçe, 2007). As a result, nurses at the hospital should be accorded conditions that ensure their jobs well satisfy them. In return, they will be able to coordinate their activities appropriately so as to achieve their duties in time and in the designed manner.
Burnout in the nursing profession is a common term which indicates the frequency of its occurrence. Anyone may fall under the effect of burnout and feel unable to cope with situations and stress. The effects of burnout are not only adverse to the nurses themselves but also endanger the lives of their patients and the general public. By learning the causes of burnout, it can be prevented or even cured. The solution starts with the success in identifying the problem and possible means of eliminating them. It is however important to acknowledge that one can never completely eliminate the causes of stress. This is why there should be constant attempts at identifying possible causes and solutions to them. As such, more information and resources should be incorporated into health institutions for this purpose. Management of stress and consequently preventing burnout should be a joint undertaking of nurses and hospital management in an effort to realize personal and corporate goals within the hospital setting. As a result, the hospital will become a safe and habitable place to work. In return, many lives will be saved in addition to realizing the mission and vision of the hospital.