It is correct to assume that nursing is one of the most rewarding experiences and one of the best professions for true altruists. As good as it sounds, nursing isn’t a stress-free career. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Being a nurse requires a great deal of patience and perseverance. The challenges faced by nurses date back to the start of this profession, and many have remained unresolved today.
Since nurses are expected to devote their lives to saving others, their health and well-being are often neglected.
These issues were highlighted and intensified during the pandemic of COVID-19 because of the increased burden on the healthcare sector.
These problems multiplied during the initial few months; long shifts became longer, staff shortage, workplace hazards, and safety threats were much higher, and the risk to personal health increased.
The first step to fixing these shortcomings is to recognize and acknowledge them. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most common and critical issues faced by nurses in their careers today:
1. Long working hours
Long shifts and compulsory overtime are issues very common to this profession. Day after day, nurses frequently work overtime in addition to their 12-hour shifts.
Most nurses aspire for better career progression by studying in their spare time. Junior nurses are seen registering for higher education degrees to learn new skills and keep themselves updated with recent advances in medicine.
Studying while maintaining a strenuous nursing routine can be challenging. But don’t let that stop you from progressing in your career.
If you are planning to complete a BSN program, go for it. One of the 4 Reasons to Choose an RN to BSN Program is that you’ll have a chance to apply for more positions in nursing that won’t require strenuous duty hours.
With an advanced degree, you could apply for a position in research and testing, which doesn’t require extensive working hours, giving you more time to relax and take care of your health.
Medical institutions should realize that burnout and medical errors are common nowadays because overworked and exhausted healthcare providers cannot provide their patients the best care.
2. Physical exhaustion
Nursing is not only mentally draining but also physically exhausting. Day-in and day-out nurses have to be on their feet, helping patients in physically demanding tasks like moving them to a wheelchair or their beds.
Hospitals that don’t provide their employees with the right equipment put their medical staff at risk of physical injury. Back injuries are one of the most commonly reported concerns.
Related shoulder and leg problems are also common complaints. Research in the United States suggests that 9000 healthcare workers experience disabling injuries due to their work, and 38% of the nurses have suffered back injuries and back pain.
Most of these injuries occur when patients are transferred from one place to another. An example would be from the bed onto a wheelchair. These effects accumulate over days of such physically tiring tasks.
3. Workplace incidents of violence
Studies in the Brazilian healthcare sector show that health professionals are at a very high risk of workplace violence. Of these, nurses are the most vulnerable.
In Brazil, a study revealed that 19.7% of 8,345 nurses had suffered violence at their workplace, ranging from psychological to physical and sexual. Such violence leads to health issues like insomnia, burnout, and anxiety.
This violence can be from distraught family members, violent patients, or superiors at the organization. Bullying is a significant concern among nurses, and stalking, inappropriate conversation, verbal abuse, etc., are constant complaints.
Often nurses come to accept this as a part of their job, and this mindset is destructive. Medical workers should be respected and encouraged to take a stand for themselves.
4. Hazards at work
When dealing with patients, nurses are exposed to diseases their patients suffer from. While some time ago, catching a common cold and flu through the transfer of pathogens was a significant concern, things are much more severe today.
With the COVID-19 virus still looming, there is a greater risk of contamination and more severe consequences. Inadequate safety equipment threatens nurses’ safety and well-being.
Contamination and infections can result from needle-stick injuries, contact with contaminated blood, and inhaling airborne pathogens.
Other than contamination, there are other work hazards like slippery floors and dangerous equipment.
Nursing is one of the most demanding and challenging professions out there. This includes dealing with patients suffering from terrible ailments, bearing the emotional burden of concerned family members, and prioritizing patient health over yours.
Under all this pressure, burnout is a common problem, and such emotional turmoil can cause sleep disturbances, fatigue, and depression. This affects your ability to provide patient care and ensure patient satisfaction.
Such professional burnout often results from hospitals being overworked and understaffed. Unfortunately, professional burnout can also, in turn, lead to staff shortage since many professionals consider leaving their careers for this reason.
Research shows that around one out of five nurses leaves their profession within the first 12 months due to work-related stress and burnouts.
6. Technological development
Yes, technology has had a tremendous impact on the healthcare sector. However, it isn’t without its drawbacks; nurses have to adapt to the continuously changing work demands and keep up with the need to learn new skills constantly.
As medical organizations keep introducing new software and equipment, nurses who don’t have a natural aptitude for technology find it difficult to learn without proper training and guidance.
It is obvious now that nurses face real challenges as a part of their profession. Long shifts, physical exhaustion, burnouts, work hazards, and the constant need to adapt are all part of the job.
However, issues like workplace violence and understaffing can be addressed if only a genuine effort is put in.
These issues must be brought to light and rectified. The healthcare sector, and nurses, in particular, have a very significant role in our society; and their concerns cannot be neglected.