It goes without saying that nurses have a difficult and important job on their hands. Their work environment can often be very intense, both physically and psychologically; so it’s no wonder that nurses are more likely to suffer from stress than those working in other sectors.
This post will examine the causes and effects of stress in the nursing profession and how employers can support them in managing it successfully.
Work-Related Stress in Nursing
What causes stress at work? For nurses, it could be factors like low salary, work overload, long hours and night shifts, as well as a lack of power to make decisions or changes.
Studies have looked at the nature of nursing and how it can lead to stress. Often, it’s a desire to help others that leads people to nursing; however, they are quickly confronted with the reality of dying patients, suffering and loss, which can be a shock to the system.
Frustrations can also arise from threats to career development, feeling undervalued, lack of resources and understaffing and struggling with work-life balance – all of which are likely to go hand-in-hand with a career in nursing.
The Adverse Effects of Stress
Unsurprisingly, stress can have a very negative effect on both the employee and the work environment. It could lead to reduced productivity, high staff turnover and loss of staff hours due to burnouts and sickness absences.
In the medical profession, stress can have serious consequences as it could result in adversely affect the levels of patient care. This might include impairments to accomplishing tasks, decision-making and lack of concentration, which are all likely to lead to errors.
Research has shown that one in ten sick days taken by nurses in the UK are down to either stress or depression, and it’s clear that the emotional and physical impact of the profession needs to be addressed to help support nurses.
How to Manage Stress
On a personal level, nurses should ensure that they engage in self-care to protect their mental and physical wellbeing. Slow and deep breathing is said to be one of the best stress reducers. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising can boost stamina and concentration. Where possible, taking a break can encourage meditation and reflection, leading to a more positive mindset.
However, it’s also important that employers address the issues of stress in the nursing profession. Some of the ways in which they could do this are:
- Introducing stress management programmes
- Holding regular staff meetings to air concerns
- Listening to nurses and then, introducing innovative solutions to reduce the main causes of stress, e.g. a hospital bed management system from Servelec to monitor hospital admissions and discharges
- Ensuring adequate staffing is available
In conclusion, the problem of stress seems to be very common within nurses and there is certainly a case for employers to do more to address it. With the effects of stress potentially leading to loss of productivity and an impact on patient care, it’s up to employers to take care of their staff and put solutions in place to help them overcome or manage it.
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