A career in nursing is very popular for both men and women. As with most healthcare-provider work, nursing offers job satisfaction, and there are positions available throughout the country. It also offers good pay, but it is not without risks. The risks can negatively impact the nurse’s health and lifestyle and should be carefully considered before a person chooses a career in nursing.
Nurses are often exposed to diseases and workplace stressors can cause diseases. Nurses face severe physical and psychological stress every day, and the working atmosphere can be depressing. These can have both acute and long-term adverse effects on nurses. Healthcare assistants support nurses, but since there are no national core standards for healthcare assistants, there is a large discrepancy between what nurses are allowed to delegate and what they should not delegate in different facilities. They need to be very careful to whom they delegate certain jobs.
Nursing is a very Physically Demanding Job
Nursing is a very physically-demanding job. Not only do nurses often need to lift and transfer patients, which takes a certain amount of strength, they also work long hours often at night and on weekends and holidays. Twelve-hour shifts in hospitals are commonplace, and nurses may find themselves sleep-deprived. Along with their regularly-scheduled hours, they may be asked to work overtime. It is not uncommon for nurses to be away from their families on holidays and weekends. Anyone considering becoming a nurse should weigh these factors against the benefits, which are also many.
The physical demands are not limited to lifting patients. Nurses are expected to lift and move heavy equipment that sometimes requires two people to move. There are lifting devices for lifting patients, but many times there is not time to get these devices, and the nurse must use his or her own body to stop a patient from falling. Nurses are injured everyday while assisting their patients.
It is also physically demanding to work while constantly standing. Nurses may minimize the discomfort and possibility of injury with supportive shoes and stockings, but they still often remain standing or walking for hours at a time. Even with the best support clothing, nurses may develop lower back and foot pain. Anyone interested in becoming a nurse should first consider if they will be able to stand for hours and hours every day.
Shortage of Nurses?
Shift work is still a major part of a nursing career especially in a hospital. Shifts are often 10 – 12 hours, and if overtime is demanded, the nurse could be working most of any given day. This means that after 12 hours of work, the nurse must remain pleasant and friendly to patients and give good care even though he or she is physically exhausted. Long hours are especially likely when there is a shortage of nurses. For example, if a nurse is sick and cannot come to work, one or two other nurses will need to take the sick nurse’s shift. This can happen several time a week and many nurses work much more than 40 hours a week. According to nursing statutes, a nurse cannot leave a patient without another nurse available to give care. If the nurse does leave the patient, he or she can be guilty of abandonment. This rarely happens, but is a possibility. Most hospitals pay overtime for this extra work, but the extra money doesn’t always compensate for the detrimental effect on the nurse’s health.
Another major aspect of a nursing career is the likelihood of working nights. Night work also pays more money, but this may not offset the inconvenience and fatigue. For some people, this is not a problem, and they seem to be very attentive throughout the night, but for others, it’s difficult to remain alert all night. Most new recruits are asked to work at night as are specialty nurses.
If a person has family commitments, these long hours can negatively impact their lifestyle and could cause rifts within the family. This can be especially true during holidays and family vacations when the nurse is not available to participate.
When the profession of nursing is viewed from the patient’s point of view, it is easier to see the challenges that face nurses. Patients expect to be treated with respect and dignity and want nurses to be their advocates, keep patients informed about their condition and help patients make informed decisions about treatments. Along with this type of attention to the patients, nurses also need to have in-depth knowledge about diseases, injuries, treatments and recovery as well as knowledge of all the equipment the nurse is required to use.
The nursing profession requires a unique blend of knowledge, efficiency and compassion that must be present at all times whether the nurse is exhausted or not. Before selecting a career in nursing, people should have a realistic picture of what their life will be like.
By Andre Bradley