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Industry Challenges
August 15, 2023

Strategies for Institutions to Address Burnout in Nurse Educators

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Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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Burnout is a serious issue among nursing educators. They are often at the frontline of education, dealing with the demands of teaching, research, clinical practice, and administrative tasks, which can lead to an increased risk of burnout. 

The authors of a paper on how to avoid nurse faculty burnout shared, "Nurse faculty have not received as much attention related to chronic stress and burnout or recognize personal chronic stress potentially leading to burnout.” 

This blog post is directed specifically at nursing faculty.

What is burnout?

The World Health Organization (WHO) says three aspects characterize Burnout: 

  1. Feelings of energy depletion
  2. Feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  3. Reduced professional efficacy

We at UbiSim, a virtual reality platform just for nursing, had a nurse educator burnout webinar with Coach Ellyn, and she said burnout is holistic and needs to consider factors at home, too. Nurse educators are whole people with whole lives.

Watch Coach Ellyn’s webinar about addressing nursing educator burnout. 

Strategies to Address Burnout in Nurse Educators 

Based on the set standards identified by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) to have a healthy work environment and the paper on Nurse Faculty Burnout, we’ve identified seven strategies to address burnout in nurse educators. 

1. Staff Sufficiently

Understaffing can lead to overload, stress, and eventually burnout. Adequate staffing levels ensure that nursing educators are not overburdened and can effectively carry out their responsibilities. Proper staffing also allows for flexible scheduling, giving nursing educators control over their work-life balance. It’s understandable, though, that it’s not always so easy because of nursing faculty shortages. 

According to AACN’s report, U.S. nursing schools turned away 91,938 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2021. Most nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to faculty shortages as a top reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into their programs. This points to a larger issue that institutions cannot directly solve but it’s good to be aware of the shortage. 

2. Give Nurse Educators Space to Communicate Frustrations

Open and honest communication can help alleviate burnout. Establish a safe environment where nursing educators can freely express their concerns, frustrations, and ideas without fear of retribution. Regular staff meetings, anonymous suggestion boxes, and open-door policies can foster such an environment.

3. Offer Meaningful Recognition

Without the hard work and dedication of nursing educators, there wouldn’t be any nurses entering the field. Awards, bonuses, and public recognition can help improve morale, reduce stress, and combat burnout. Acknowledge small wins and major achievements to show their efforts are appreciated and valued.

4. Support Them in Saying “No”

Encourage nursing educators to set boundaries and prioritize their tasks. Nursing faculty may feel obligated to take on more responsibilities (committees, writing, presenting, counseling) than they can handle, leading to stress and burnout. Institutions can support educators by respecting their boundaries and affirming their right to decline additional duties when overwhelmed.

5. Offer Professional Development Opportunities

Continuous learning and professional development can help nursing educators stay engaged and motivated. Regular training, workshops, seminars, and other educational opportunities can help them learn new skills, stay updated with the latest nursing education trends, and prevent feelings of stagnation or boredom.

6. Equip Them with Funds and Tools

Limited resources can lead to frustration, inefficiency, and, eventually, burnout. Institutions can provide appropriate funding for materials, equipment, software, and other tools needed for instruction and research. This not only makes educators' jobs easier but also enhances the quality of education they provide to their students. 

One tool to offer is immersive virtual reality training for nursing students. UbiSim is a platform with scenarios built by nurse educators, specifically for nurses. Check out how Mennonite College of Nursing uses UbiSim to prepare nurse learners for the Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) Exam. 

7. Create Opportunities for Mentorship

Pairing new or less experienced nursing educators with seasoned colleagues can help reduce burnout. Mentors can provide guidance, support, and encouragement, which can be invaluable for those just starting in the profession or facing challenging situations.

A study found that “Novice nurse educators stated that they did neither receive sufficient mentoring or support nor receive constructive feedback in their assessment practices.” Nurse educators have a great deal on their plate. As an institution, whatever can be done to free up time for mentorship can have a great impact. 

Conclusion

Addressing burnout among nursing educators is a complex but necessary task. It requires a multidimensional approach that considers both the personal and professional factors contributing to burnout. With the right strategies in place, institutions can help nursing educators maintain their passion and commitment to nursing education, ensuring the development of future nurses and the quality of patient care.

Watch Coach Ellyn speak about addressing nurse educator burnout in our on-demand webinar!

Interested in trying UbiSim in your healthcare institution?
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Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

As an integral center of UbiSim's content team, Ginelle pens stories on the rapidly changing landscape of VR in nursing simulation. Ginelle is committed to elevating the voices of practicing nurses, nurse educators, and program leaders who are making a difference.

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