A new analysis finds that the staffing crisis plaguing entry levels of long-term care is trickling upward to impact nursing leaders.

New study results show that staffing shortages are damaging nurse leaders’ job satisfaction rates, hastening burnout among the top ranks. The American Association of Directors of Nursing Services released results of its 2019 study on nursing directors on Monday.

About 75% of respondents cited staffing shortages as their top challenge, and 63% said they do not have adequate staff to properly care for residents. Those shortages are forcing nurse leaders to the frontlines, with about 66% saying they are routinely providing direct resident care. Balancing work and personal life is important to nurse leaders, but such interruptions to their work routines are causing problems, they reported.

Amy Stewart, RN, RAC-MT, DNS-CT
Amy Stewart, RN 

“Work-life balance is a challenge,” said Amy Stewart, R.N., vice president of curriculum development for the affiliated American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing. “And when you look at that, you also see that work-life balance is interrupted by the fact that they are being pulled into the role of caregiver.”

Stewart urged nursing leaders to invest more in both education and training, to better engage nurses, and to turn more attention toward encouraging certified nurse aides to further their careers and take up bigger roles in SNFs.

“If you’re an RN with an associate’s degree, you have leadership opportunities in long-term care. But where do we get those RNs? We need to start looking at CNAs who want more responsibilities and are demonstrating leadership qualities, and possibly invest in those CNAs to become nurses and carry on the torch” Stewart told McKnight’s.

AADNS gathered its information from about 15,000 directors of nursing working in the long-term care field. It also includes DON/DNS salary comparisons, along with staff turnover rates and trends. The 2019 AADNS Director of Nursing Services Work Study and Salary Report is available for purchase here.