Working as a nurse is a physical job as much as it is a mental one. The healthcare field is fast paced, always changing, and always in need of hardworking people to fill the slots. The nursing field, specifically, is in dire need of people to fill open positions needed to make hospitals run smoothly. Because of this shortage, many hospitals are understaffed. Nurses have to work even harder than normal to fill the gap; a feat that cannot be overstated.
Nursing staff members work long shifts, go without sleep, work on holidays, spend a lot of time on their feet, lift patients, and save lives – and chart every step of the way. Because of the demanding requirements, there are several health risks that seem to plague nurses.
Pain in the Foot
Being on your feet for hours at a time will naturally cause foot pain and nurses know the struggle of being on your feet for hours at a time. The pain that nurses feel isn’t just pain; being on your feet can cause plantar fasciitis, bunions, and tarsal tunnel syndrome. Instead of accepting your fate and dealing with the chronic foot pain that seems to go hand in hand with nursing, it’s best to take measures to help your foot health and minimize the pain.
Getting the right pair of shoes can do wonders for the problem. It’s important to find a shoe with ankle, heel, and arch support and replace them every six months, even if they don’t seem worn. Each foot is different, however, so shop around until you find the shoe that’s right for your foot. Use inserts, get a pedicure, and be mindful of the preventions and treatment for painful feet instead of accepting the pain.
Risks with the Job
A nurse’s job involves working very closely around sick people which is why one of the health risks of nursing involves their main task which is caring for those who are ill. Being exposed to infectious diseases like tuberculosis or hepatitis is one risk. Other risks involve catching colds or flus that are also affecting patients. Following the strict safety procedures outlined for each hospital is a great way to help eliminate the risk of getting sick or poked with a needle. Keeping your immune system healthy by eating right, exercising, and taking your vitamins will help to prevent these risks that come with the job, but it’s important to be aware of just how easy an exposure can happen and what to do if it does.
Nursing is a job of highs and lows. Seeing patients and family members rejoice over a good diagnosis, helpful treatment, or any health improvement is a win. It’s great to see immediate gratification for the hard work you put into the healthcare field and helping those in need. However, sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much you put your heart into it, some people are just unable to be helped. This can be quite difficult for many nurses and other professionals working in healthcare. This is why some training programs for those working in a hospital setting stress the importance of maintaining a professional distance from patients in order to help prevent stress, depression, or anxiety associated with losing a patient. However, caring is inevitable and many nurses experience mental health stresses as a result. It’s important to discuss these feelings with supervisors or another healthcare professional in order to cope in a healthy way and not become overwhelmed with the emotional rollercoaster.
Having your Back
Bending down, lifting patients, and body rotations all play a role in back pain for nurses. The lumbar is not an especially strong muscle due to its overuse in everyday life. Every readjustment and movement when sitting or standing requires work from the lumbar so it’s extremely sensitive to overuse and injury. Nurses who use their back for the lifts, bends, and rotations needed for the job tend to use these muscles a lot over their shifts, causing it to become a problem. Following safety procedures for safe lifting will help lessen the risk of back injury as well as working out the area and getting help from other staff members. Always be mindful of bending over, lifting, and rotating appropriately in order to avoid injury. If you do injure your back, make sure to rest it and not overuse it to risk further injury.
Feeling the Stress
All jobs are stressful, but jobs that have to do with health tend to be even more taxing. Having someone’s life in your hands is not an easy task and it’s imperative to be on your game mentally, physically, and emotionally. This is easier said than done in a field that is shorthanded, requires long hours, and making quick decisions.
One wrong decision doesn’t mean the wrong person received your email or your shipment went to the wrong place, it could potentially mean life or death for that person. It’s important for nurses to understand the role of certain medical assistants meant to help them and utilize them in order to lighten their workload. Taking breaks and time off to relax and take time for yourself is also imperative in order to keep a manageable stress level.
Nurses deserve capes along with their diplomas when they graduate from nursing school. The amount of effort it takes physically, mentally, and emotionally is unmatched by many other careers. The difficulties of the nursing field cause many health risks that nurses should look out for including foot pain, exposure risks, emotional turmoil, back pain, and high stress levels. Fortunately for those who choose a career in the nursing field, they are already determined enough to handle these health risks better than most.
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now settled down in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys talk radio, playing Frisbee with her dog, and advocating for addiction recovery. Follow her on Twitter!