As nations around the world celebrate 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, designated by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Nursing (Academy) has released policy briefs highlighting the connection between nurse wellness at work and the health of their patients. Throughout the messaging for the 2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife designation is the undeniable commitment and emotional support nurses and midwives provide to the patients they serve.
Promoting nurse well-being is a priority of the Academy as it relates to our 2019-2020 Policy Priority: Reduce Provider, Patient, and System Burden. In order to place the patient at the center of care delivery, policies must be supportive of the providers and systems within the care team as well. In the policy brief, Nurse fatigue, sleep, and health, and ensuring patient and public safety, published in the September/October 2019 edition of Nursing Outlook, the Academy advocates for research into nurse fatigue risk mitigation and related provider wellness and patient safety issues. In addition, the Academy supports policies and efforts that promote sleep health and reduce fatigue in the workplace for the safety of nurses and their patients.
However, addressing sleep health and fatigue is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to truly realizing nurse wellness and joy at work. Published in the November/December 2019 edition of Nursing Outlook, the policy brief Improve nurses’ well-being and joy in work: Implement true interprofessional teams and address electronic health record usability issues demonstrates the inextricable link between nurse and patient health. The Academy maintains its position that in order to address a healthy and joyful work environment, the healthcare system must take care of its workforce through the creation of true interprofessional teams and a practical electronic health record.
Overburdened nurses, who have daily high-stress encounters, which can take heavy emotional tolls, are at a higher risk for depression and suicide. “Suicide is a significant mental health issue nationally and globally. In our interest for the health of the nation, the Academy is particularly invested in the health of our providers and support research and tangible solutions into the risks for suicide among nurses,” said Academy President Eileen Sullivan-Marx, PhD, RN, FAAN.
The Academy commends the national discussions among the nursing community and our Fellowship urging for additional research into the issue of nurse suicide. It is our commitment to promote the findings of their work and to continue to find a way to end this heartbreaking trend. In celebrating the world’s nurses and midwives, we must also strive to relieve the inevitable burdens they face while delivering care.
More updates on the Academy’s work to promote nurse wellness and to support the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife will come over the course of 2020.