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Tips for Eliminating the Cycle of Mandatory Overtime

Keywords: nursing career , career tips , night shift , health and wellness

Tips for Eliminating the Cycle of Mandatory Overtime

Hospitals all around the country experience nursing shortages from time to time. This can result from leaves of absence, personal time off, unfilled vacancies and census peaks. A common solution to this issue is to have existing nursing staff work overtime. While there are some nurses who are glad to do this from time to time, or on a regular basis due to the extra funds it provides, it can become overwhelming at times.

In fact, the chronic use of overtime hours can result in patient care being jeopardized. There are a number of hospitals that will even terminate nurses who refuse to work this overtime.

Cycle Instigation

The fact is, issues with chronic overtime can result in a vicious cycle. When excessive hours are worked it can reduce morale of the staff and contribute to burnout on the job. This will then result in even more issues with nurse vacancies.

Underlying Issues of Nurse Dissatisfaction

There are a number of reasons nurses leave their job, some that are not even related to dissatisfaction in the job. While hospitals will recruit nurses to replace those who leave, they should try to reduce the resignations that come from dissatisfaction with the job.

Fatigue Working Risks

When nurses are working overtime constantly, they can suffer from fatigue. This cycle can reduce patient care and increase the potential for patient harm. Since fatigue increases the potential for errors, this can seriously reduce the issues of patient harm, which can actually cost a hospital more in the long term.

How to Break the Cycle

One option to break this cycle is to offer voluntary overtime, rather than mandatory overtime. The majority of nurses will understand when they are unable to do their jobs due to fatigue. This means they can request overtime when it suits them, rather when it is demanded by the hospital.

Mandatory nurse overtime can have serious negative effects on nurses and hospitals. This cycle should be minimized to ensure superior patient care.

Learn more about mandatory overtime: