Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Nursing Officer of Vocera Communications, joins me on Leading with Health to talk about the impact of cognitive burden on nurses.  

Rhonda works closely with nurses, physicians, IT professionals, and other hospital leaders around the world to improve the lives of patients, families, and care teams. She has been a nurse for more than 30 years and is a co-founder of the American Nurse Project, which is dedicated to elevating the voices of nurses. She is a sought-after speaker on the evolving role of nurses, the impact of cognitive overload in healthcare environments, and the importance of effective communication.

Highlights include:

9:43 – RC: “(With COVID), nurses who have worked in the operating room for 20 years were suddenly being asked to work in ICU and then taking care of patients with symptoms that we really had not seen before.”

9:45 – RC: “What really fatigues that short-term memory, or really leads us into completely overwhelmed, is constantly going between novice to expert, novice to expert. Because in our expert state, it’s like driving. It’s muscle memory. You know, you don’t have to think about it, you just do it. But when you’re having to think about every single thing you do, that brings you into a state of mental fatigue that is truly identified as cognitive overload and can eventually lead to burnout.”

12:55 – RC: “We tend to want to blame the individual. We tend to want to say, well, that person just doesn’t cope well, when in reality what’s burning the person out is the work. It’s the work that’s causing the burnout.”

17:45 – RC: “I think that we have to explore from a nurse executive perspective, we have to explore more foundational nursing or nurses having a team around them.”

18:55 – RC: “I would say that our initial reaction is that technology adds to the cognitive burden but where I look at it is, where can that technology carry the burden of memory or where can it consolidate and collate information? Working, provide categories of information for me, so I don’t have to use that mental capacity to do it?”

Leading with Health is hosted by Jennifer Michelle. Jennifer has a Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology and is a former EMT. As President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, Jennifer specializes in healthcare marketing. She is on a mission to create a healthcare system that actually cares about the patients and the providers.