Published: May 09, 2019

Did you know that 93 percent of U.S.-based registered nurses (RNs) are satisfied in their career choice? That’s good news. The not so good news is that nurse fatigue is chronic in healthcare. In fact, 98 percent of nurses surveyed stated that the work of a nurse is both physically and mentally demanding. The same Kronos survey, “Employee Engagement in Nursing” also found that 44 percent say that their managers don’t know how tired they are and 43 percent hide how tired they are from their managers.

Numerous studies have shown that workforce fatigue leads to disengagement, burnout, and turnover. And that’s the last thing you want given that healthcare has become the largest and fastest growing industry in the United States. (1) This robust demand will continue to be driven by the aging U.S. population increasing demand, rising retirements of baby boomer healthcare workers, and overall job growth. In fact, hospitals and health systems need to wake up to this issue as 90 percent of nurses say they have thought of leaving the hospital they work at to find a different job with better work/life balance. The survey also finds that gaining more control over their schedules is the top factor that can help nurses alleviate a significant amount of fatigue, with more than half (55 percent) of nurses agreeing to it.

Let’s take a closer look at these tiring statistics. This national survey of 257 RNs who work in a hospital setting was designed to look at the issue of fatigue in nursing, and what nurses and their hospitals are doing about it.

  • Ninety-three percent of nurses’ state that at the end of a typical day they are mentally and/or physically tired
  • Four out of five nurses say they find it hard to balance mind, body, and spirit
  • More than four out of five (85 percent) note that their work causes them to be fatigued overall, and this has consequences:
    • Fifty-six percent of nurses overall and 70 percent of night-shift nurses say they have driven home from work drowsy
    • Forty-four percent of nurses worry their patient care will suffer because they are so tired
    • Thirty-seven percent of nurses say they worry about making a mistake, and 11 percent state they have made a mistake at work because they were so tired
  • Among the top causes of fatigue, nurses identify the following – excessive workloads (60 percent); being unable to take lunch and dinner breaks during a shift (42 percent); not being able to take any breaks during a shift (41 percent); and not being able to get enough sleep between shifts (25 percent). Additionally, 24 percent of nurses say that 12-hour shifts (as opposed to eight-hour shifts) are key for causing fatigue.

There’s more good news though -- fatigue can be addressed. Essentially nurses want more control over their nurse schedules.

  • Sixty percent of nurses say that if they had more say in their shift scheduling they would have a better work/life balance, and 55 percent agree that having more control over their nurse scheduling would help alleviate fatigue
  • When asked what their hospitals can do to combat fatigue, the top answer (55 percent) is to offer better schedules. Provide more breaks (42 percent), offer health and wellness programs (41 percent), and manage overtime more effectively (35 percent)

With so much changing in today’s healthcare landscape, hospitals and health systems need to stay alert. And despite the fatigue, nurses love their work and colleagues. Ninety-three percent of nurses say that, when they consider all aspects of their work, they are satisfied with being a nurse and 77 percent note they are energized by their work. The bottom line, if your hospital is going to follow through on its mission of providing quality, cost-effective care, it’s critical to build and sustain an environment where employees are engaged, passionate, and empowered.

Download the ebook to learn how nurses employed in a U.S.-based hospital setting responded to a survey about fatigue. Or download our Kronos for Healthcare scheduling guide to learn how Kronos scheduling solutions can help manage fatigue at your organization.

1) AMN Healthcare, December Sets Record for Healthcare Job Growth as Total Industry Employment Reaches 16 Million: https://www.amnhealthcare.com/december-sets-record-healthcare-job-growth-total-industry-employment-reaches-16-million