It is no secret that nurses are the crux of the healthcare system. They are primarily responsible for looking after the patients in their vulnerable state and offering them the best quality care possible. And while the nursing profession is lucrative and rewarding in the healthcare industry, it is also one of the most challenging fields.
Undoubtedly, nurses deal with patients from different walks of life each day. Every day they have to deal with new challenges. Moreover, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic cases worldwide, nurses played the role of frontline workers. As a result, their emotional and mental health is compromised.
There are indeed plenty of nursing roles in the field. Each job role might have slightly different job duties and educational requirements. Yet, some of the challenges are common that every nurse experiences, regardless of the work environment and job position. The good news is there are a few ways and coping strategies nurses can adopt to overcome those challenges. Below is the list of six common obstacles and ways nurses can avoid them:
1. INJUSTICE AND HARRASMENT
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word bullying? Probably, an image of young kids in school harassing someone. However, the truth is bullying does isn’t limited to school only; nurses also experience bullying and harassment at their workplace. Racial jokes, demeaning behavior, humiliation, physical abuse, etc., are all too common in the field and are among the most common challenges. On top of that, Implicit Bias in Nursing adversely affects the quality of patient care.
The best way to avoid bullying at your workplace is by identifying bullying or injustice, taking a stand, and reporting to higher authorities.
2. LONG WORKING HOURS
The nursing job is not strictly a 9-5 job. It is primarily a 10 or 12 hours shift, and even sometimes, nurses end up staying longer than their usual shift time. Most healthcare facilities create shift schedules for nurses. That way, nurses don’t have to work long hours. Still, at times, these facilities may face some emergency. Due to long hours shifts, nurses often feel mentally and physically drained at the end of the day. As a result, nurses have to stay back.
Stress and exhaustion can often lead to mistakes that can be detrimental to patients’ health. You can overcome this challenge by taking short breaks to refresh your mind and body and focus better on your job duties.
3. UNEXPECTED OR CANCELLED SHIFTS
Although when you started working as a nurse, your supervisor might have given you your shift schedule. Yet, sometimes unexpected things come up. Shift cancellations or unexpected calls can leave you frustrated and exhausted. Of course, you might have some personal plans on your day off; an unexpected call can ruin your goals, or a shift cancellation at the eleventh hour may leave you feeling annoyed or distressed.
Overcome this challenge by practicing flexibility. Thus, make sure to keep some room for unexpected calls or cancellations. However, don’t forget to establish boundaries to achieve a work-life balance.
4. WORKPLACE HAZARDS
Another challenge that nurses face is workplace hazards. Working as a nurse, you will deal with patients having different sicknesses all day in and day out. You might even come in close contact with the infectious patient before their infection is even diagnosed. It has become even more of a big challenge with the outbreak of COVID-19. However, you can’t provide the best patient care if you do not take precautions to keep yourself away from illnesses.
While working in a healthcare facility, you can’t stay away from workplace hazards. Still, adopting good hygiene habits can help you significantly. You should also wear proper PPE provided by your employer and take probiotics.
5. TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS
Like any other industry, further technological developments and advancements streamline various operations in healthcare. For example, the healthcare sector previously heavily relied on pagers for effective communication between nurses, patients, and other medical staff. However, today, nurses can stay in touch with their patients through apps and smartphones. In addition, other technologies such as telehealth, electronic health records, IV pumps, etc., make shifts more manageable for nurses.
And while technology helps save time and energy and reduce errors, many nurses, especially the experienced, lack basic technological knowledge. Nurses must become familiar with the latest technology by staying adaptable and attending online training to overcome this challenge.
6. SHORTAGE OF NURSES
Do you know that the number of nurses leaving their professions has grown from 40,000 in 2010 to 80,000 in 2020? In addition, as the baby boomer population increases, the demand for registered nurses also increases. This is exciting news if you are an aspiring nurse, but the shortage of nurses is one of the major concerns of the healthcare industry. Due to this shortage, nurses often have to work beyond regular hours, which causes them stress and burnout.
Overcoming this challenge is next to impossible at the moment. Still, healthcare leaders can take a few initiatives, such as introducing remote consultations and mobile health apps to reduce nurse burnout. Moreover, you can share your concerns with your nurse leader as a nurse.
Naturally, nursing is one of the most challenging professions in the healthcare sector. Not every individual is cut out to be a nurse, as it takes a lot of perseverance and commitment to tackle the struggles and challenges you might encounter throughout your career. Whether you have just graduated or are an experienced nurse, having a positive mindset can help you deal with any obstacles that may come your way.
After all, you can only perform at your job and offer optimum patient care when you are in your best physical and mental health.