I was reading an article the other day about yet another story of a healthcare worker getting physically assaulted while on the job. That story got me thinking about just one of the stresses nurses face on a regular bases.
So, is being a nurse stressful? Yes, it is. There are challenges nurses face each shift that makes their job very stressful. From a hazardous work environment to combative patients, to being understaffed, a nurse’s job is riddled with many forces beyond their control.
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Why are Nurses Jobs so Stressful?
There are so many reasons why nursing as a profession can be stressful for starters let’s begin with…
1. Work Place Hazards
There are many parts to this, and technically you could group these first several together, but I figured it was worth breaking them apart.
One of the benefits of nursing or what people who go into nursing find the most meaningful is the ability to serve those who are sick and help them to feel better.
The flip side to that is many of the patients nurses treat have contagious illnesses.
It’s a workplace hazard many nurses know, but from experience knowing there’s a chance you could be stuck with a needle and actually getting stuck with a needle are two different things.
2. Combative and Hostile Patients
Healthcare workers and especially nurses are attacked often by combative patients (source).
For nurses who work in specialties like emergency room nursing and mental health nursing, it starts becoming even more common than you think.
3. Physically Demanding
“No-lift” hospitals aside nursing is a very physically demanding job. Even with proper body mechanics, many nurses are injured regularly (source).
Even just looking at the number of hours nurses are on their feet, you can see how that can start becoming problematic.
4. Unrealistic Workload
More and more are asked of nurses. Between the understaffing of units and management’s unrealistic expectations, nurses are finding it harder and harder for them to do their job (source).
There are many reasons for this, but the unfortunate results are nurses who are getting more stressed, leading to nursing burnout along with the potential for negative patient outcomes.
5. Nurses Are Making Life and Death Decisions
This varies so much, but in certain areas of nursing, nurses are making life and death decisions.
I know what you’re probably thinking, emergency room nursing, and critical care nursing.
Am I right?
The thing is while those nursing specialties get the highlight for something like this, those areas are not the only ones where nurses are having to make critical decisions.
For example, mental health nurses are making life and death decisions regularly, especially when dealing with patients struggling with suicidal ideation.
While you might think nurses knew what they were getting themselves into when they signed up for the job, it doesn’t change the stressfulness of the actual experience.
Managing the Stress
Nurses educate their patients to practice good self-care regularly and must do the same for themselves. Some good ways of dealing with stress involve…
- Eating healthy meals
- Making sure to exercise regularly (I know it’s hard you’re not the only one that struggles with this also)
- Making sure to get plenty of sleep
- Learning how to unplug and take breaks
- Some other tips include finding a safe person to talk to such as a trusted friend, family member, or even a licensed therapist
Those tips are some of the recommended tips of handling stress from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or more commonly known as the CDC (source).
Another tip nurses should be aware of is knowing when it’s time to switch jobs or a different nursing specialty if your current job or area is becoming too stressful.
As mentioned earlier, being a nurse can be stressful. That’s why it’s crucial for nurses to practice good self-care and learn to take care of themselves.
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