Nursing is one of the most challenging but lucrative careers in the healthcare sector. With the boom in the aging population and the constant burden of growing health crises, nurses are under pressure to meet patient care expectations. They face several difficult situations and experience traumatic events daily. However, nurses need to get prepared to handle such situations tactfully for their professional and personal development.
Let us have a look at the challenges that nurses face and how they adjust to them.
- Filling the Shortage of Nursing Staff
One of the common and hardest challenges in the nursing profession is the shortage of staff. The leading causes of limited staff are nurses’ resignation to switch to another career or for retirement and limited seats in community colleges. The shortage of nurses is expected to rise by 2030 across the United States.
When medical facilities have inadequate staffing, they demand existing nurses to fill the gap and work for extended hours and shifts. Many nurses experience mandatory overtime due to understaffing. To cope with staffing issues, nurses must conduct proper research and ask about the working policies of healthcare facilities before joining them. You can also get information from nurses who are already working there and inquire about their schedules and shifts.
- Managing Long Shifts
Nurses usually perform their duties in 10 to 12- hour shifts. They easily become exhausted after dealing with patients and administrative tasks. Working for extended hours is physically and mentally daunting for them, resulting in burnout. Often, night shift nurses face fatigue, insomnia, and other chronic health issues due to the constant disturbance of the natural sleep cycle. It often leads to adverse impacts on health and affects their performance.
Prioritize your sleep and take enough rest when you are not on duty to avoid burnout. Though, nurses following traditional schedules cannot develop a regular sleep pattern. You can request support from family or friends to complete personal or household tasks. Meanwhile, you can sleep for six to eight hours to resume your duties with energy.
- Dealing With Emotional Traumas
The profession of nursing, unlike other professions, invests time and energy to make the lives of other people better. They directly deal with patients, and sometimes they develop emotional bonds with them, especially children. This emotional attachment of nurses can result in trauma.
Nurses need to consult colleagues and seniors for seeking emotional support. Find a support system that you can depend on to share your professional experiences and traumatic cases. You must know how to vent out your feelings and regulate your emotions to stay sane. In extreme cases, seek any professional counselor help who can guide you about productive coping stress management and detachment techniques from emotional trauma.
- Keeping Up with Changing Schedules
Nurses face difficult times scheduling their activities and maintaining work-life balance due to changing shifts in general. For instance, they may work the morning shift during the three working days, for example, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, for one week and perform their duties in the night shift on other days, including Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The shift in schedule seriously harms their sleep patterns leading to stress and anxiety.
Try to get as much rest as you can in between shifts. Talk to your family and friends to avoid unrealistic expectations and personal commitments during challenging shift timings.
- Adapting with Changing Technology
With the advancement of technology in medical techniques and equipment, nurses need to keep themselves updated and relevant to modern trends. They must know about and learn how to operate new software and devices. However, it becomes hard for nurses to get familiar with modern systems and learn about updated software due to the challenging work environment.
You must be interested in learning about new technological advancements in the medical field, as no one can excel in a career without its information. Make sure you attend training sessions and conferences that can help in capacity building. Be proficient in healthcare software and technological equipment.
- Handling Poor Treatment of Patients
Sometimes nurses face mistreatment at the hand of patients or their family members while providing care to them. Lack of cooperation and physical or verbal misbehavior can result in a negative impact on performance. Patients under the influence of medication and dealing with mental health issues may cause trouble for you. In such cases, you must seek support from colleagues and supervisors. Inform the supervisor about threats and dangerous behavior without wasting any time as it might get out of control. In extreme cases, you can also complain about uncooperative and misbehaved patients or their visitors to the security team of a medical facility.
- Coping with Physical Challenges
Nurses also experience physical injuries due to the demanding nature of the job. For instance, they lift, reposition, and move patients from wheelchairs, stretchers, and beds. In addition, they also carry heavy objects and stand for a long period without taking any breaks.
To overcome these injuries and health-related issues, they must follow safety protocols during their duties. Ask for support from colleagues or assist staff if needed. You must also maintain a healthy lifestyle and exercise daily for physical stamina.
- Following Safety Protocols Against Exposure to Infections and Chemicals
Nurses are at greater risk of contracting viral and bacterial infections due to constant and direct contact with patients. They also work in hazardous environments involving chemicals and drugs used for various medical procedures. Sometimes, a lack of safety measures can pose a serious threat to their own lives.
Nurses must follow safety protocols while dealing with hazardous materials, including wearing protective gear, gloves, goggles, masks, and gowns, and proper labeling of specimens and containers.
Nursing is a demanding yet rewarding profession that comes with contentment to serve humanity. Still, every nurse must know how to deliver quality services in the best possible way while coping with challenges. They must take great care of themselves so that they can efficiently fulfill the profession’s responsibilities. Nurses must practice healthy habits such as staying hydrated, keeping a proper and balanced diet, and avoiding eating unhealthy food. They must go through monthly checkups and screenings to examine their health condition before it gets worse.
Vivek is a published author of Meidilight and a cofounder of Zestful Outreach Agency. He is passionate about helping webmaster to rank their keywords through good-quality website backlinks. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle. You can find him on Twitter and Linkedin.