Managing nurses: stretching an already stretched workforce

How can hospitals better support nurses in managing workload and in preventing burnout?


A/Prof Susanna Lee, Chief Nursing Officer, Hong Kong Baptist Hospital

Dr David Sun, Chief Executive Officer, North District Hospital

Shirley Heng, Chief Nurse, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

Elaine Ng, Group Head of Nursing, IHH Healthcare Berhad (moderator)


Hospitals, even prior to COVID-19, suffer from a stretched workforce, especially with nurses who often bear the blame on medication errors. During the pandemic, the role of nurses has even become more pronounced as they stepped to the front lines.

Good leadership often translates to staff retention. It should trickle down to all levels of the organisation. The staff should know the management is taking every necessary step to ensure their safety and well-being both within and outside the hospital.

Moreover, making the nurses feel they are trusted with every step they take is imperative. Likewise, transparency and communication give an added boost to nurses. Employees are more receptive to instructions when they feel they are part of the organisation. They need assurance and comfort given their heavy workload, which often causes them to quit.

Most importantly, collaboration must always be practised. Doctors and nurses have to work together especially in this difficult time.

Key Takeaways

  1. Nurses make a huge difference in pandemic management.
  2. We have to trust that every member of the organisation, both nurses and doctors, have important roles to play in fulfilling the hospital’s mission to provide care.
  3. We have to acknowledge that nurses often feel overworked; thus, we will benefit if we look out for each other to continue to provide care for patients.