Nursing professionals function in different areas of medicine and there has been evidence to suggest that there is a variance in the prevalence of burnout among the different areas of medicine that the nursing professionals function in. Sahraian et al, 2008, in their examination of the levels of burnout in the areas of internal and the factors that contribute to it, show that nursing professionals are prone to burnout. However, it is the nursing professionals operating in the field of psychiatry that demonstrate, the highest levels of burnout, followed by nurses in burn wards. The high level of contact involved in the care of patients in these wards with poor prognosis places high emotional demands and the authors suggest that this is the reason for the higher levels of burnout experienced by nursing professionals in psychiatric wards (Sahraian et al, 2008). Furthermore the findings of this study indicate that the prevalence of burnout is not the same in all the areas of nursing function, but varies depending in the demands put on nursing.The high levels of burnout among nursing professionals have a significant impact on healthcare services, with nursing being a cornerstone in the delivery of healthcare. Yet, this very corner is facing is a challenge of its own, with high levels of burnout among the nursing professionals threatening to exacerbate this challenge. According to Shirey, 2006, the current challenge that the nursing profession in the United States of America is facing, is the crippling shortage of nurses. Estimates suggest that as we enter the year of 2020 there will be a shortfall of twenty percent in the projected requirement of registered nurses, which translates into the staggering figure of 800,000 (Shirey, 2006). The situation becomes more alarming given that nearly a third of the current nursing force is above the age of fifty and by 2010 nearly 40% of the nurses will be over the age of fifty and heading towards retirement (Milliken, Clements & Tillman, 2007). Burnout reduces the efficiency and productivity of the available nursing workforce and in combination with the shortage of nursing professionals creates a working environment of overbearing workload and increased pressure at work, which increases the risk potential of burnout among the existing nursing
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