November 11, 2020
3 min read
Montoya V and Sanon M. Session 230. Presented at: American Nephrology Nurses Association Nephrology Nursing Practice, Management & Leadership Conference. Nov. 7-8, 2020 (virtual meeting).
Healio Nephrology was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.
Results of a survey administered to members of the American Nephrology Nurses Association showed many experienced a high workload which, according to two speakers, may contribute to decreased well-being, along with staffing challenges.
At the virtual ANNA Nephrology Nursing Practice, Management and Leadership Conference, Victoria Montoya, PhD, of the University of Central Florida, and Myrlene Sanon, MPH, a health outcomes researcher at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, said workplace impact on nephrology nurses’ mental health is both “concerning” and “disturbing.”
Beginning the discussion, Montoya addressed the audience.
“As I was preparing this talk, I started wondering how you might be feeling while you’re watching this presentation,” she said. “Stressed, tired, anxious or just feeling depleted with little motivation or joy in your work? We know from existing research that nurses face enduring health and wellness challenges brought on by the workplace. The long hours, heavy workload and shift work typical of the nephrology nursing practice can contribute to job dissatisfaction, burnout and health consequences, including issues of mental health.”
She argued that nephrology nurses may be at increased risk for workplace-related mental health burden due to the complexity of patients with kidney disease, ethical dilemmas they deal with regularly when treating these patients and the highly specialized nature of the profession.
“It’s not difficult to understand that the health and wellness challenges that nurses face may contribute to retention challenges, and we are concerned,” she said. “It’s not surprising to see that there are major recruitment and retention challenges brought on by the workplace. Turnover rates can reach as high as 33% annually and this will only continue to increase if the work-related stress factors are not addressed.”
Sanon discussed the results of the questionnaire, which was the result of an effort between ANNA and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and included approximately 400 ANNA members.
“The goal of the survey was to better understand mental well-being of nephrology nurses,” Sanon said.
She touched on the following findings, regarding perceptions of workload:
- 35% of respondents did not believe their workload is reasonable;
- 27% said they have missed a change in a patient’s condition because of the workload; and
- 25% said their current workload may cause them to look for a new job.
She emphasized that while 60% reported concerns about their workload being too heavy, most have not voiced these concerns (67% of nurses reported they have not mentioned heavy workload to their supervisor).
Sanon also noted that up to 30% of nephrology nurses do not have time for a 30-minute meal break during their shift.
“It’s disturbing to realize that 67% reported having frequent trouble relaxing, meaning that we are uptight most of the time,” Montoya added. “Forty-seven percent have difficulty controlling worrying and many report feeling fear. It’s difficult to say how many of these responses were affected by COVID-19 pandemic.”
Results showed many nephrology nurses, especially those practicing in the Northeast, are worried about the pandemic; nurses in the Northeast were also more likely to report treating patients who had COVID-19 or having had patients who experienced mortality due to the virus.
Further findings indicated 62% of respondents felt burnout, with 47% reporting that work is “hardening their emotions,” which suggests compassion fatigue, according to Sanon.
Sanon also addressed differences between age groups and race, with results showing nurses older than 65 years had less anxiety than their younger counterparts. In addition, while more white nurses reported more anxiety in general, as well as more symptoms indicative of a major depressive episode, a higher number of Black and Hispanic nurses reported being more worried about the pandemic.
“Nephrology nurses experience an important psychological burden and having focus strategies aimed at supporting better or improved mental health of these nurses is warranted,” Sanon concluded.
Montoya added that ANNA is focusing on developing new initiatives to achieve this goal.
“We hope to continue the conversation,” she said. “We’re excited to collaborate to support the well-being of nephrology nurses.”