Nurses take care of us when we are the most vulnerable. They not only help us recover, but they also provide us with emotional support. After doctors, nurses are the caretakers of the patients. They deal with many different scenarios and have many stories to tell.
Despite the looming threat of life and death, nurses make their job look considerably effortless. However, that is not the case. There are many challenges nurses have to face every day that go unnoticed. Here is a list of the everyday challenges that health care workers handle on their job. Do not worry; we will not leave you hanging. We will also give you tips to handle the situations.
- Nurse shortage
The understaffing of nurses is a global challenge. There are reports and studies from all around the world suggesting higher patient-nurse ratios. The high ratio indicates that there is a lower number of nurses as compared to the number of patients. It takes a toll on the nurses as they have to cover long working hours. It affects their productivity and increases the chances of critical errors as well. It also leads to job dissatisfaction, which eventually leads to higher turnover rates.
The shortage does not only affect the nurse professionally, but it also affects their personal life. Every relation demands time. If a person is unable to be available for their loved ones, relationships begin to fall apart. When a nurse works in a short-staffed environment, it can drive a wedge between them and their personal commitments and relationships. Other than the impact on the nurses, understaffing is also unhealthy for the patients. A simple mistake due to work fatigue or lack of expertise in the healthcare facility can have fat consequences.
There are a lot of things that can help hospitals have an adequate number of nurses. Various countries focus on implementing stringent policies to maintain a healthy patient-nurse ratio. For example, a hospital can set the ratio to 3:1. It will ensure that the nurses are not overworked and patients have well looked after. Hospitals can also follow a designed hiring approach. The approach will help to hire the right person for the job.
Nurses make up a big part of health care systems, accounting for nine of the top 55 medical and healthcare careers. They can communicate ways to promote healthier working environments and help counter the problem. Experts recommend acquiring higher degrees. It allows the nurses to gain more knowledge and advance their skills in delivering quality patient care. For example, a registered nurse can enroll in an online rn to bsn program to handle the work dynamics better. Hiring highly educated and skilled nurses will enable a healthcare facility to provide better care even if the patient-nurse ratio is slightly off the intended value.
- Difficult patients
There are a lot of times when a nurse has to face a difficult patient. In many scenarios, the patient’s loved ones can also give you a hard time. They may not provide you adequate information, or they may react irrationally with the staff.
Difficult patients increase the challenges of a nurse. They add up to the already existing work-related stress. If the patient becomes violent, it also puts the life of the nurses in danger.
The first step in dealing with difficult patients is to understand the reason. Hospitals can bring our demons out. Nurses can listen to their patients to calm them down. After they are calm, ensure that you set clear boundaries with them. You can affirmatively warn your patients that the hospital will not tolerate misbehavior with the staff. It will allow patients to trust you more and not jeopardize their careers and life.
It is important to remember that the patient does not hate you. Do not let the patient’s action ruin your day by taking it to your heart. Take the time out to regain yourself before treating other patients.
- Workplace Hazards
Hospitals and other health care facilities can be extremely hazardous at times. The nurses put themselves in danger every day for their patients. Many hazards can occur, such as physical hazards, chemical hazards, and biological hazards. Patients with contagious diseases can transfer the infections to the nurses. The chemical contamination can occur by various drugs and sanitizers. These hazards can be life-threatening and aggravate the existing understaffed problem.
Hospitals can help the nurses minimize workplace hazards by implementing safety protocols to prevent unfortunate situations. Employers can also provide training to their staff regarding the proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials.
It is everybody’s responsibility to follow the protocols and protect themselves from hospital hazards. Personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves, and Tyvek suits is essential in hazardous environments. For example, surgical face masks are vital to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Similarly, Tyvek suits are impermeable, so chemical fumes, which may cause allergies, do not penetrate your skin.
- Physical and mental fatigue:
The nursing profession is tiring as nurses often have to work nonstop during their long shifts. It demands your best physically and emotionally. The standard working hours in a day for a nurse are twelve hours. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are a lot of days where nurses have to work for longer hours. The managers or the supervisors can demand an extension on a shift, and refusing can result in being unemployed.
The long working hours challenge nurses to their full potential. It is not humanly possible to be keenly observant 16 or 17 hours in a day. It results in numerous health-related problems, and many nurses cannot cope with the stress and fall into depression. Studies show that nurses working the intensive care units for long hours are prone to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Nurses must take care of themselves. Adequate rest before the shift starts is essential for proper function on the job. It will allow you to enter your workplace with a fresh mind. Proper sleep and diet can help you cope better with the challenges you face on the job. Exercise is also a great practice to reduce work-related stress. It increases your physical and mental endurance while simultaneously decreasing cortisol levels in the body.
You must maintain a work/life balance. Quality time with your friends and family will enhance your mood and give you the energy you need for your shift. If the stress is getting more than you can handle, it might be time for a vacation with your loved ones.
It should be pointed out that not following these tips will lead you to a state of physical, mental, and emotional burnout. Chronic fatigue negatively affects your performance and productivity, as well as causes unnecessary stress and anxiety. Check out this article on practical ways to prevent nurse burnout which will help you reduce stress and emotional exhaustion.
Nursing is not an easy profession. It can get overwhelming on some days. If you are a nurse and facing any of the challenges, talk to your peers. It will help you realize that you are not alone. Nothing in the world is unachievable. With these tips and a positive attitude, you will be able to overcome the challenges.