Nursing is amongst the most challenging but rewarding healthcare-related professions anywhere you go. In fact, Barrack Obama, the former president of the USA, praised American nurses and branded them as the driving force behind the American healthcare system.
However, any healthcare-related career comes with obstacles, and nursing has its fair share of issues. The truth is that these issues make the work environment extremely difficult for nurses, decrease their overall satisfaction levels, and hinder their ability to provide high-quality patient care. Follow on for The 6 Worst Parts of a Nurse’s Job (and how to make them better).
Some of these workplace challenges include exposure to disease, short staffing, workplace violence, long shifts, and much more. And for nurses to perform their duties with exceptional efficiency and thrive in such a challenging work environment both professionally and personally, they have to overcome these obstacles day in, day out. Below are some of the challenges nurses face on the job daily and how they can overcome them.
1. Continuing Education
The nursing profession requires individuals to remain highly competitive all year round. Meaning, they have to acquire specialized certification and further education to stay up-to-date with the latest nursing best practices.
Although continuing education can benefit both a healthcare institution and nurses, it can prove highly challenging to take time from their busy schedules, not to mention the already existing issues with work-life balance in a nurse’s life. Taking such a route can obviously present more challenges.
To overcome this, nurses can go for online education instead of a campus-based one. In fact, various online RN to BSN degree programs, and nursing-related certifications are available these days. So not only will you be able to work as a full-time nurse, but you can also study and hone your nursing skills in the process.
2. Workplace Politics
Workplace politics is an ongoing issue in any work environment. And combined with the nursing profession, you can have yourself a recipe for disaster! Politics in the nursing profession usually include biases, taking credit for other nurses’ efforts, bullying, gossiping, etc. Of course, being a victim of hospital politics most definitely leads to decreased job satisfaction, resulting in you eventually searching for a new job.
The best thing you can do is stay as far away from people known for stirring the pot to overcome such a challenge. Try to remain as neutral as possible during confrontations and avoid discussing any hot topics that might provoke an adverse reaction from your co-workers.
You might consider becoming a travel nurse if you find it hard to avoid hospital politics. A travel nurse moves from hospital to hospital as they usually don’t stay at a particular healthcare institution for more than three or four months. As a result, they aren’t around long enough to experience the aftermath of workplace politics.
3. Long Working Hours
Nurses often work long hours, which can be down to two reasons; short staffing and cost-cutting. Whatever the reason may be, working more hours than you’re supposed to can affect your health adversely. Furthermore, it can also affect the quality of care you deliver to your patients, putting their health at risk.
When nurses work long shifts, they aren’t well-rested, meaning their bodies won’t recover quickly. For instance, nurses who work long hours succumb to chronic shoulder, leg, and back pain, while some end up developing long-term medical conditions such as arthritis or diabetes.
Plus, you might suffer from impaired mental function, fatigue, and daytime sleepiness by not resting adequately. To counter this issue, always make the most of your one-hour break. If you can take a short nap, go to the break room and do so. Resting up will refuel your body and allow you to see your shift through without breaking a sweat.
4. Staffing Shortages
Staffing shortage is an issue that has plagued the nursing field since its inception. On top of that, the Covid-19 outbreak has increased this issue tenfold. Short staffing leads to medical errors, overworked employees, and reduced care quality. But what are the reasons for such staffing shortages?
According to research conducted by Science Daily, there are more 50-year-old nurses than 30-year-old ones. It means that the number of nurses retiring these days is far higher than a decade ago. While more nurses hang up their boots, more patients flood through the hospital gates.
To overcome such a challenge, healthcare leaders need to bring about change. They should encourage more and more individuals to acquire a nursing education, for example, by completing a BSN, MSN, or DNP program online. Also, healthcare managers and leaders can request retired nurses to brush off their lab coats and get back into the nursing game to overcome short staffing.
5. Exposure to Viruses
A nurse’s responsibility is to look after and care for sick patients daily. So, there is a higher chance of physical contact with patients who suffer from infectious diseases and viruses. Plus, Covid-19 is already making nurses’ lives difficult. However, nurses can take a few necessary precautions to avoid contracting deadly diseases and viruses. These include:
- Taking probiotics regularly
- Maintaining distance from sick patients
- Using proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
- Using a high-quality hand sanitizer before and after touching surfaces
- Washing hands after every 30 minutes or so
Taking such preventive measures will ensure you stay healthy and are always ready for work.
6. Burnout & Stress
Long working hours with little to no rest between breaks will undoubtedly negatively impact anybody’s health, let alone a nurse who already does overtime. So, it is understandable that nurses experience professional burnout due to being overworked.
It can result in a nurse making bad, job-related decisions, proving problematic for the healthcare facility and, most importantly, the patients. After all, misjudgements at the hospital can lead to life-or-death situations. Furthermore, burnt-out nurses tend to make more managerial mistakes, which can cause administrative issues for the healthcare facility.
To overcome this challenge:
- Ensure you stop and take some time out to refuel yourself.
- Look after yourself and get some well-deserved rest before going on your shift.
- Get at least seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and eat your meals on time.
You can also perform some physical activity such as jogging or going for a walk at the park to energize yourself. Moreover, don’t forget to engage in healthy, positive conversations with your family and friends during your day off. Sometimes, all work and no play will negatively affect you physically and mentally.
The uphill battles you’ll face when working as a nurse may leave you disheartened and alone. However, remember you are not alone. Always ask yourself the reason for taking up the nursing profession. And keep reminding yourself that you’re in it to help mankind.
Try getting in touch with local nurses as they can relate to your struggles. Who knows, you might end up finding a few tips or gems of advice that will help you deal with the everyday challenges of working as a nurse. Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!