The nursing profession is amongst the most challenging yet rewarding careers out there. In fact, the former president of America, Barack Obama, praised the American nursing workforce and branded them as the beating heart of the USA’s medical system. However, as nurses dedicate their entire lives to providing care for other people, their personal needs and professional goals often fall by the wayside.
Every now and then, nurses face issues on a national or organizational level that affect how they provide care to a diverse population. They play a significant role in healthcare systems worldwide, and their working conditions must remain satisfactory at all times for them to thrive personally and professionally. That said, some workplace challenges that present themselves as a challenge (sometimes hazardous) include workplace violence, exposure to illness, inadequate staffing, and much more. Let’s have an open discussion about some of the challenges nurses at the workplace face and how to overcome them one day at a time!
Nurses have to remain highly competent at all times. In order to do so, they have to acquire higher education and any nursing-related certifications to provide the best quality care to their patients and adhere to the latest nursing best practices. Although receiving higher education benefits nurses in the long haul, it can be challenging for them to study if they are already working full-time. Plus, they already have work-life balancing issues; adding education only compounds it.
To tackle this issue, aspiring nurses can take up online education. There are numerous online DNP programs and other nursing certifications/qualifications available these days. Not only can you study while working as a full-time nurse, but you can also brush up your nursing skills in the process. In fact, work experience is often a prerequisite for some higher-level degrees. Nurses who can successfully multitask are eventually better suited for leadership roles within the profession.
Navigating workplace politics is a massive challenge on its own. Add the nursing profession to the mix, oh, and you get a recipe for disaster. Hospital politics might include nurses taking credit for other nurses’ work, bullying, gossiping, biases, and much more. Dealing with hospital politics can sometimes lead to a decline in job satisfaction and a higher chance of you quitting your nursing job entirely. More importantly, it can lead to medical misconduct and misjudgment that may ultimately affect patients’ health.
To overcome this challenge, consider becoming a travel nurse. It is not only fun but the perfect way to avoid hospital politics altogether. Travel nurses don’t stay at a specific medical facility for more than thirteen weeks. They aren’t around long enough at one location to get caught up in all the hospital drama. However, if you don’t want to take this route, try to remain neutral during confrontations/conflicts and avoid discussing “hot” topics. Plus, focus all your energy on taking care of your patients, and report any malpractice and instances of bullying to the management.
Exposure to diseases and sickness
Nurses have to take care of sick patients daily. However, due to Covid-19, nurses and other healthcare professionals have to take a few precautions to avoid contracting it from infected patients. A few tips to stay healthy in the workplace during Covid-19 (and in general) include;
- Using proper PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)
- Taking probiotics every day
- Avoiding touching the face and nail-biting.
- Sanitizing everything such as your work computer, phone, purse, hands, etc.
Incorporating these tips into your nursing practice will allow you to stay healthy and be ready for anything your shift decides to throw at you! Also, always maintain a healthy diet and fitness routine to bolster your immune system.
Staffing shortage was already present in the healthcare system everywhere. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken this issue to an entirely new level. Such an issue leads to reduced patient care quality, medical errors, overworking, and work-related fatigue. But, why is the nursing profession facing such a staffing shortage?
According to a Science Daily study, around 40 percent of the entire American nursing workforce is over 50. More and more nurses retire every day, causing an imbalance in the nurse-to-patient ratio. As the number of nursing retiring increases, so is the number of patients coming into medical facilities.
To solve this staffing shortage issue, healthcare leaders need to discuss and work towards a change. There is a need for these leaders to familiarize themselves with the ratio of retiring nurses to patient intakes while also mentoring young nurses to come in and take charge of the declining situation. Furthermore, healthcare leaders and managers can also ask retired nurses to dust their stethoscopes and work part-time to overcome these staffing issues.
Last but not least, it is necessary to reduce educational barriers to entry, such as high tuition. This way, more aspirants can easily acquire healthcare education instead of being scared of the potential debt.
Nurses usually work longer hours than any other healthcare professional out there. It could either be due to short-staffing or downsizing due to budget cuts. Whatever the reason may be, working long, restless hours is detrimental to nurses’ health. It will eventually start affecting the quality of care a nurse provides to her/his patient. For example, nurses who work longer shifts can experience chronic shoulder, back, leg pain, fatigue, and sometimes impaired mental function.
It would be best if you took some time off to fuel yourself; otherwise, your body will suffer from burnout. So, if you are working full-time, try to ask your supervisor to give a week off from your duties so you can refuel and get back motivated to work harder. If you cannot take some days off from work, try to take small breaks on your shift whenever possible. Also, maintaining a regular sleep cycle helps to beat off work-related fatigue tremendously.
With every challenge, there will be an opportunity for you to become a better nurse. These challenges are nothing new for nurses, and there are tons of resources out there to help them tackle any challenge that comes in front of them. Nurses possess excellent problem-solving skills, and they know how to get things done correctly.