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Helping nurses and employees cope with negative interactions

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Healthcare workers are dealing with a ton of burnout from the pandemic, and a lot of nurses say they're dealing with patients who just don't treat them all that well.

A new study from the University of Iowa is trying to find ways for them to cope with the extra stresses.

Multiple studies have shown within the past few years, there have been increased reports of incivility between curses and their patients. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Speaking with one of the study's co-authors, Amy Colbert, a professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Tippie College of Business, says that one of the ways nurses can help themselves is by simply stepping back and coming to terms with the negative interactions as being apart of the job. This can help to reframe back experiences as being a part of self-sacrifice to help the greater good. This comes with a bit of a caveat.

"So even when nurses were able to reframe things and remember their purpose, they didn't have positive outcomes unless they were in a supportive work unit," said Colbert.

That was the big takeaway from their findings. Building a broad support network of peers/coworkers that understand the type of work and the stressors involved is the key. Without that support network in place, Colbert said that reframing could lead to more harm than good. As it could lead to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction with their jobs, which in turn affects their work.

Hospitals, clinics, or any kind of workplace can help their employees deal with burnout by promoting methods that can build organic workplace relationships. This in turn helps to build a coworker support network to help nurses and coworkers cope with their negative experiences. Another caveat here is making sure those methods are seen as real or authentic in order to properly build those supportive connections.

While the bulk of this study focused on nurses in hospitals and clinics, Colbert said "this applies to lots of different professions. There are so many customer-facing professions, that we actually did a second study that looked beyond nurses. We found there were similar kinds of reactions that happen with nurses, where those negative interactions have costs for those employees and lead to burnout."

This was also something that she said employers and leaders should consider in their own workplace.

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A struggle Colbert pointed out too is the worry that with the increased workload, employees may struggle to find time to build those connections. Plus, work-from-home setups are also likely to lessen the ability to build those workplace connections. While these are definitely hurdles, Colbert really stressed the importance of finding a way to build those healthy workplace connections.

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