There’s no denying that nursing is a gratifying career, both financially and professionally. Even so, there is bad attached to every good. When you walk out of nursing school with your graduation cap, you might be thinking that the hard part’s over. Little do you know about the challenges that follow shortly after. For starters, nurses are always on the go when it comes to providing care. They don’t just assist the doctors with medical procedures but also go out of the way to perform jobs that aren’t even listed in their job descriptions.
These jobs may include consoling a crying patient, dealing with violent individuals (patients or their families), changing diapers, or simply being there for a patient when no one else can. During the Pandemic, nurses spent a significant part of their shifts spending time with patients in isolation for their mental wellbeing. While nurses are there for everyone, they rarely have anyone to care for them. Sometimes, the entire caregiving practice can get seriously overwhelming. As per a survey conducted in 2018, 31.5 percent of nurses who quit their job in the US identified burnout to be the reason for quitting.
Your responsibilities as a nurse vary with the role you’re working. For example, nurse administrators are primarily responsible for supervising the nursing staff. They aren’t required to attend to emergencies at the hospital, nor do they have to be on-call. On the contrary, a labor and delivery nurse may need to attend to patients anytime during the 24 hours of the day. Plus, assisting with labor and neonatal processes is very challenging physically and mentally. Nevertheless, these nurses are well-compensated. Besides, there are countless ways to overcome the challenges of being a nurse, and some of them are listed below:
- Overwhelming shifts
Nursing isn’t your typical 9-5 job. The shifts may vary up to 12 hours too. In addition, you may need to stay back at the hospital for up to 36 hours in emergencies. Breaks aren’t guaranteed with the kind of work these nurses deal with. Consequently, the shifts are highly likely to drain you both physically and mentally, and an exhausted nurse is of no good to their patients.
There is no way to escape long shifts. So, what can possibly be the solution? Recharge: Take enough rest when you’re not working. Try to balance your circadian rhythm by sleeping and waking up on time. Use the Pomodoro technique to prevent overworking yourself. Try taking a 5-minute break after every 25 minutes. These 5 minutes can be used to take a stroll, grab a snack, perform 5-minute yoga, or simply sit down and do nothing.
- Ample job Stress and Burnout
Nothing takes a toll on your mental health as healthcare jobs do. A bad day at work doesn’t end up losing a client; you might even lose a life. The stress of dealing with human lives is unfathomable. Furthermore, being consistently surrounded by sick patients, blood, death, and pain can stress you out pretty easily. Your deteriorating sleep schedule and fatigue from working long hours fuel the fire. Finally, being stressed at work substantially increases the chances of making medical errors such as injecting the wrong medicine (or doses), mixing up test samples, forgetting important tasks, etc.
The solution: breathe. Ensure that you’re well-rested before starting your shift. Upon experiencing stress or anxiety, you can simply do breathing exercises to gain control of yourself. Prioritize your peace over your job. You are what you eat, therefore, maintain a balanced diet. Make time for yoga and meditation in your routine.
- Constantly Changing Shifts
Imagine you gathered every ounce of your will to get up at 9 pm, take a shower, get dressed, and make your way to your shift at the hospital. You’re nearly there when your cell phone buzzes for you to find out that your shift has been canceled. Similarly, you may get notified to work a shift when you’re in the middle of your birthday lunch. Nevertheless, it ruins your plans and commitments for the days ahead.
Schedules frequently change because maybe another nurse called in sick, someone filled in for you internally, or for any other inexplicable reason. Changing schedules are inevitable in this job, so you can maintain better relationships with your executives and communicate your frustrations to them. If you’re on good terms with the management, likely, they will not let you suffer the trauma of changing shifts very often.
- Emotional investment
No matter how much you avoid it, you will be emotionally involved with your patients after spending time with them. Some of your patients will walk out of the hospital healthier and happier. Some will leave in a casket. The trauma of seeing birth and death casually every day is unimaginable for most.
It is important to be mindful of your feelings and avoid bottling up your emotions. You should take time out for yourself and seek counseling if needed. If not, you can always talk to a friend or loved one to let go of your emotions. It is always necessary to cope with your feelings more healthily instead of rolling a joint and thinking you’re good to go.
- Physical investment
Nursing is rarely a paperwork job. You’ll often be required to lift and transfer heavy patients or objects (machinery, etc.). Besides that, you’ll find yourself standing for long periods of time during long surgeries and emergency hours. The consistent strain on your body can lead to illness or injury.
Always use lifting machines (readily available in hospitals) to lift heavy objects or simply ask for help. Include exercise in your routine to strengthen your muscles. Exercise will also help build the stamina needed in a healthcare setting.
The Bottom Line
Some heroes don’t wear capes; they wear scrubs. While there are countless challenges a nurse may encounter in their career, there are even more ways to overcome them. You may find yourself working long hours or dealing with changing schedules. Your job as a nurse is also very demanding, both physically and emotionally.
The stress of handling life and death can’t be described in mere words. The solution is to practice mindfulness, do yoga, and take breaks during shifts to prevent burnout. Avoid bottling up your emotions and ask for help when necessary. Maintain good relationships at your job and seek counseling to improve your mental health.