A change initiative to prevent critical care nurse burnout implementing a sacred pause following patient death




Volek, Nicole Brion


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Background: Critical care nurses are increasingly challenged by the complex work environment of the critical care unit. The nature of a critical care nurse’s job can be especially stressful because of the high patient morbidity and mortality, challenging daily work routines, and regular encounters with traumatic and ethical issues. Burnout concerns are particularly important when critical care nurses serve patients who die under their care, which can exacerbate general burnout. Purpose: This evidence-based change initiative aims to prevent burnout and thereby promote resilience in the critical care nurse by using an intentional sacred pause following a patient death. Methods: This change initiative project is a pre-test/post-test design. Burnout was measured pre-and post-intervention (the sacred pause) with the intention to prevent critical care nurse burnout and thereby promote nurse resilience. The Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Survey for Medical Personnel (MBI-HSS-MP) was used to measure nurse burnout. Conclusion: The MBI-HSS-MP inventory scores were similar on both pre-and postintervention assessments indicating prevention of nurse burnout. This evidence-based practice change initiative was well received by the staff members in the hospital and demonstrated clinical significance. Participation in the intervention was documented. The use and progressive implementation of the sacred pause following patient death was naturally implemented by the nurses. Critical care nurses are a vulnerable population susceptible to burnout. Further research around multi-modal health-promoting interventions such as the sacred pause will be beneficial for this population. Supporting critical care nurses to adopt health-promoting behaviors may promote resilience and prevent the risk of burnout that often results in many nurses leaving the profession



Critical Care Nurse, Patient Death, Prevent Burnout, Sacred Pause