Editor’s note: This is the first post in a six-part series that will focus on improving caregiver work environments.
It’s been more than 20 years since I went from a career as a nurse to being an architect. So when I recently had the chance to shadow a nurse for eight hours, a number of things about his work environment surprised me.
I was sure that advances in technology and equipment would make work for nurses less demanding. That would give them more time with patients. I was wrong. Nurses are working harder than ever for longer hours and with sicker patients. And the number of patients they treat is increasing because of a nursing shortage.
Considerable attention has been given to patient-focused and family-centered environments. But only limited focus has been given to creating sustainable environments for nurses. Their environments remain stressful and inefficient, which unfortunately can lead to medical errors.
I wasn’t surprised when I saw a survey indicating that more than one-third of nurses would not recommend their profession to young people. The physical demands are great—six hours went by before we sat down for the first time—and the emotional stress can be exhausting.
As a nurse, I understand the demands faced by caregivers. As an architect, I believe my profession can respond to those demands by designing safe and efficient nurse environments that also provide respite and rejuvenation.
In part two of her series, Cardon will focus on decentralizing the nursing unit.
Photo via: WorkingNurse.com