April 24, 2024
Battling Burnout

Photo: UF

UF's transition-to-practice residency program includes training and one-on-one time with preceptors as well as access to mental health services.

Economic Backbone: Nursing

Battling Burnout

Nearly 20% of nurses leave their first jobs within one year. Nursing programs in Northeast Florida are utilizing mentoring and support resources to help first-year nurses thrive.

Vanessa Caceres | 11/30/2023

In her first year as a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit, Amber Santos, an assistant professor of nursing at the Keigwin School of Nursing at Jacksonville University, remembers driving to work with tears in her eyes and wondering what she’d encounter on the job.

First-year jitters and even some tears are normal for nurses who are new to the job, she says. Yet, with nursing shortages and increasing demands for work-life balance, burnout after the first year on the job is becoming all too common. In fact, 18% of licensed registered nurses leave the job after a year, according to the American Nursing Association.

The average cost of registered nurse turnover is a little more than $52,000 per nurse, according to the 2023 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report.

Northeast Florida nursing programs are using strategies to help address and prevent first-year burnout.

Bryce Catarelli, a clinical assistant professor with the University of Florida College of Nursing, co-authored research that focused on burnout in new nursing graduates in 2021 — a cohort of 43 nurses, part of a 390-person sample — and found that they had normal resiliency but also had moderate levels of burnout overall. The research was published this year in the Journal of Nursing Administration.

The UF nursing program now has a transition-to-practice residency program that aims to help new graduates make the move to professional nursing. The program includes training and one-on-one time with preceptors as well as access to mental health services. An evidence-based mentorship program is also in progress.

Data from a survey of new nursing graduates will help show how effective these strategies have been, Catarelli says.

At Jacksonville University, faculty emphasize self-care and work-life balance from the start. There is also a mentorship program that connects their nursing alumni with a faculty member of their choice who can provide support.

Staff and faculty within JU's nursing program stay informed of resources for nurses at local hospitals, such as mental health support, chaplain support, and other programs aimed at coping with nurse-specific challenges.

“We’re so used to helping everyone else, but we’re one of the last to ask for help. It’s changing that mindset a little. It shouldn’t get to the point of burnout,” Santos says.

Health care organizations also can listen to first-year nurses’ ideas to mitigate burnout, although leaders may not always be able to implement those ideas, she says. 

Tags: Healthcare, Feature, Economic Backbone: Nursing

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