The Exhausted Florence Nightingales

Have we given a thought to the nurses' anxiety and pressure at workplace? Researchers at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Malaysia have been studying how being burnt out at work affects nurses' job performance.

They walk around in the middle of the night only to check if you are feeling well. These are the Florence Nightingales, the nurses. But have we given a thought to their anxiety and pressure at workplace?

Doctors are hailed as life savers; but nurses save lives too. Without them doctors cannot perform duties fast. The nurses handle the details of a medical setting; prepare patients for medical treatment, provide assistance during recovery, and offer ongoing support following treatments. They are always required to work in tandem with physicians and patients, both at hospitals and homes. Looking at it, nurses are present as we begin life and at the time we breathe our last. Little wonder many of them suffer from job burnout.

A 'burnout' is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion and cynicism that occurs frequently among individuals who work with others. For instance doing lots of ‘people-work’, interacting intensively and regularly with clients and co-workers. Nursing definitely falls into this category, and nurses are exposed to high risk of getting burnout as they need to respond quickly to high expectations from patients, their family and co-workers.

In the healthcare industry, the consequences of burnout are costly. Burnt out nurses are emotionally exhausted, depersonalized and have reduced personal accomplishment. In effect, they seem to experience reduced job performance, which will be reflected in absenteeism, job turnover, and low morale.

According to the research, the major stressors in the nursing profession include excessive workload, conflict with physicians and patients, unpredictability, and constant exposure to death and dying

Triggered by this common phenomenon, Dayang Nailul Munna Abang Abdullah of UiTM Shah Alam, Malaysia and Fong Chui Yuen of University of Sarawak, Malaysia determined the relationship between job burnout and job performance of nurses. The factors of interest in this study were components of job burnout, which included emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and diminished personal accomplishment; and job performance of nurses. Survey questionnaires were used to collect the data. The respondents were nurses from a private hospital at Perak.

The study revealed that there were significant correlations between emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and job performance. It also showed that emotional exhaustion was the dominant factor affecting job performance of these nurses.

Published: 08 Mar 2012

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Institute of Research, Development and Commersialisation (IRDC) Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam, 50450 Shah Alam Selangor Malaysia

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Websites: Universiti Teknologi MARA