If you have worked 12 hour shifts long enough, you begin to convince yourself that you really do not require more than a few hours of sleep to function. Perhaps your plan is to “catch up” on your days off. The fact is, a tired nurse can be a dangerous nurse. The American Nurse’s Association ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN states, “research shows that prolonged work hours can hinder a nurse’s performance and have negative impacts on patients’ safety.” “We’re concerned not only with greater likelihood for errors, diminished problem solving, slower reaction time and other performance deficits related to fatigue, but also with dangers posed to nurses’ own health.” The following are a few tips for the nurse insomniac….
Happy Tuesday! In this week’s post for Mighty Nurse, I talk about the importance of the little things in nursing. It’s basic nursing, but a critical reminder in the care of our patients ❤ Have a great week!!!
Nurse burnout is an epidemic not just in the U.S. It happens here in Sweden as well, the world over for that matter. It’s called “hitting the wall” in Sweden and fortunate for any individual living here, there is both financial and emotional support for those suffering. According to a 2010 study, “the hospital nurse workforce is experiencing greater workloads resulting from shorter hospital stays, rising average patient acuity, fewer support resources, and a national nurse shortage. Higher nurse workloads are associated with burnout and job dissatisfaction, precursors to voluntary turnover that contribute to the understaffing of nurses in hospitals and poorer patient outcomes. Indeed, more than 40% of hospital staff nurses score in the high range for job-related burnout, and more than 1 in 5 hospital staff nurses say they intend to leave their hospital jobs within 1 year.”
Burnout is a very personal story for me. It is a story I have not shared with anyone but my closest friends and family. Until now. Moving to another country, learning to communicate in another language, and working in intensive care in said language threw me over the edge and became my downfall. I then lost someone dear to me, a support I had counted on most of my life. I felt hopeless. I would drive to work holding on to some hope that I would make it through my shift and regain what little confidence in myself as a nurse I had left. I left most mornings with doubt, tears, and a feeling of hopelessness. I couldn’t sleep at night. I would toss and turn. On my days off I was so consumed with a lack of self confidence and worry. Something had to give.
Why share this extremely personal story? Because I was in denial for a long time. Because I thought it would never happen to me. Because it did happen to me and I want to give those experiencing burnout some sense that their is hope. Burnout does not mean the end of your career. It is not a reflection of you the individual. It is a series of misfortunate circumstances.
Are you headed in that direction? The following are a few signs and symptoms to be aware of ❤
Our March Nurse Feature follows a super inspiring nurse who has volunteered her way across the globe. For those nurses afflicted by wander lust, meet Kristen. She is an American nurse with a background in pediatric, newborn, and maternal health. She currently lives in Romania with her husband and two adorable girls. She is a founding board member of the non-profit, Faces of Tomorrow, and when she’s not on a mission, she’s planning the next.
I first met Kristen while working as a travel nurse in California. She has this super infectious and enthusiastic personality like there is just not enough time to get all the things done in life one wants. I am happy to call her my colleague and friend.
Where are you from?
I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in Crofton, Maryland. I moved to San Francisco in 1999 and still consider it HOME. Currently, I’m living in Bucharest, Romania.
In what area of nursing do you work?
Maternal Child Health. I started in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I worked in various areas of Pediatrics and then started travel nursing at hospitals in the Bay Area. During that time I worked at UCSF, Stanford Children’s hospital, Oakland Children’s and a few Kaiser hospitals. I ended up working at Marin General hospital on a travel contract and fell in love with the staff, patients, and hospital. They offered to train me to work in postpartum, the newborn nursery, and at times the NICU as well as pediatrics.
I love being able to work in multiple areas with women and children. It’s nice to see healthy patients and families at times unlike acute pediatrics. In addition, I started working at some underserved community clinics with adults and pediatrics to expand my skills and work in community public health. Being part of the birth of a child and caring for the family right after birth is magical. However, my heart still belongs to the pediatric patients-it’s my passion.
How long have you been a nurse?
What inspired you to be a nurse?
I’ve always loved kids and helping others. I’ve worked with kids in various capacities since I was in the 4th grade. When I was in high school, I had a chance to take a health class and I found it interesting. Then in college I visited the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D. C. and saw all babies born addicted to drugs. I was crushed and confused. I started volunteering to be a “holder” to comfort the babies withdrawing from cocaine. It was rewarding, heartbreaking, and confusing. It was then I knew that nursing was my true calling.
What advice would you give to a new nurse?
Follow your dreams, continue your education, diversify your skills, and volunteer or work with underserved populations in America and abroad. It’s essential to understand other cultures and to understand the issues within our own cultures and systems. Truly, it can help you be a better provider and empathize and connect with your patients on a much deeper level.
What advice would you give to a tired nurse?
I’m a big believer in self-care. There is a high burn out rate in nursing and without self-care it’s inevitable. I would recommend yoga, meditation, massage, and travel! It’s not healthy to constantly do shift work, live with sleep deprivation, stressful situations, and the emotions involved with nursing and healthcare related jobs. Actually, I would give the same advice to anyone with any job…self-care is a must!
Thank you Kristen for your contribution!! See more from my interview with Kristen and on her mission work in my upcoming Mighty Nurse Feature. There is need everywhere in the world, even in our own cities. What can you as an individual do to be of service to someone else? There is an increasing epidemic of drug babies plaguing the U.S. Find your local volunteer cuddle program and hold and love these babies. Visit your local nursing home and spend a few hours with an elderly resident that has no family.
“The dedicated enjoy supreme peace. Therefore, live only to serve.”