Update on – The Effects of Nursing on Nurses

I’m going to address a few things I read repeatedly in the comments of my original post:

What about the CNAs/PCTs/Aids/etc? I was a tech prior to becoming an RN, while I went through nursing school. I personally know how exhausting and backbreaking the job of a tech can be. But this post wasn’t about CNAs, it was specifically about nurses. CNAs do not have the same responsibilities nurses carry, although we share many of the same tasks. The RN is ultimately responsible for the task to be completed, and will be held responsible if it is not.  I do recommend CNAs take time to practice self care and realize when they are overly stressed, or if a patient is being abusive . I have personally seen patients abuse a CNA who would not abuse a nurse. CNAs are not mindless automatons, they are living, breathing people with a lot of their own responsibilities, and deserve to be treated with respect by nurses, doctors, and patients. Ultimately, my blog post was about nursing, and because I was not dealing with a  CNA at the time, CNAs were not mentioned in my post.

If I don’t like my job, I should quit it. Also, I should have known nursing was hard when I went into nursing school. – I’m not going to quit my job. I’m very good at my job. My blog post was about encouraging all nurses, including myself, to practice self care techniques to avoid the effects of compassion fatigue. For those who are unaware, compassion fatigue is not the same as burnout. Compassion fatigue is the result of repeated exposures to extreme stress over time. When units have high levels of compassion fatigue, they have higher incidents of falls, medication errors, and infections. Nurses suffering from compassion fatigue do not answer call lights and alarms as quickly. Compassion fatigue is a real issue among healthcare providers. The recommended treatment for compassion fatigue is time away from the source.

If every nurse who suffered from compassion fatigue, stress, frustration or burn out left nursing, healthcare as we know it would be irrevocably changed.

I’m a nurse. I’ve never called in sick, taken a mental health day, or complained about the long hours and working holidays.

Congratulations. Maybe you should write your own blog post about the stressors you experience on the job, and how you deal with them so the rest of us can learn. Maybe you are one of these nurses who practices lateral violence, and are part of the problem.

Other healthcare professions experience the same thing. Why weren’t we included in this post?

I’ve said it repeatedly in the comments: this post was about a specific interaction between nurses. Other healthcare professions certainly experience stress, compassion fatigue, and lateral violence. We all have a lot of responsibilities. I cannot write about problems experienced by respiratory therapists, paramedics, EMTs or other healthcare workers because I have only been a secretary, a tech, and a nurse. I write what I know. If you would like to write a blog entry about your specific profession, I would be happy to link to it on my blog.

Since last August, I have taken several steps to improve my personal stress level and mental and physical health. Because I am attending a BSN program that has clinicals, and am very fortunate to have a very supportive spouse, I have decreased my work hours for the next several months while I have nursing clinicals. This will also allow me an opportunity to help my feet heal, as the pain during work is quite significant. I realize not everyone can do this, and that I am very fortunate. I will still be spending 36+ hours a week on the hospital floor, as well as time in classes, so I will remain pretty busy.

I would like to recommend some reading for those interested in the problems facing nurses

From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public – Bernice Buresh and Suzanne Gordon

Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses and Patient Care – Suzanne Gordon

About Grimalkin, RN

Trying really hard to be a decent person. Registered Nurse. Intersectional Feminism. Poet. Cat. Political. Original recipes. Original Stories. Occasionally Questionable Judgement. Creator of #cookingwithjoanne and #stopcock. Soulless Unwashed Carrot. This blog is dedicated to my grandmother, my beloved cat Grimalkin, and my patients.

Posted on January 2, 2014, in Nursing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. From my perspective, a hospital nurse, it makes me shake my head that anyone had anything negative to comment. But its a free country, they’re entitled to their opinion but, it does tell me they don’t or have not done what we do. Otherwise they would “get it”. Anyway, I enjoyed and identified with your blog that’s why I shared it because my nurse friends and coworkers do too! Great job! Work hard! Study hard! I’ll be looking forward to future posts whenever they come..

  2. One of the things I found most interesting about the original post is how similar the comments were no matter what country the respondents were responding from. I think that goes to show how western countries with aging populations that live longer are struggling with the onslaught of new patients.

    It always seems to come down to money with most governments and the rising patient to nurse ratio is abit of a foreboding sign to me of things to come.

    As I said in my previous post, those of you (nurses) who work in states/provinces/countries that allow for unions, it is in your interest to find a unionized hospital/assocation. My wife’s experience in a non union hospital was one of exploitation and a complete lack of respect for the professional capacity of the nurses that worked there. That sort of stuff doesn’t fly at a good unionized hospital.

  3. Your original post was extremely excellent and was clearly about Nurses only. I’m surprised you got so much slack about not including other related professions. That’d be like writing a post about baseball and getting flack for not discussing football players.
    Well written once again.

  4. Good for you for your posts on nursing. I am a retired nurse of over 30 years. Retired since Aug. From my own experience our profession is not very caring towards its own. I have had to work hard to care for myself. Keep up your good work and don’t forget to take care of yourself. I have at times.

  5. sorry you got so much flack on YOUR blog about nursing. I am a CNA and have the utmost respect for all nurses. I know what we deal with and Know the Nurse has SO MUCH MORE to do. I applaud all nurses.

  6. Terry de la Vega

    This is the second time posting this share. I have not seen the first one yet and I fixed some serious typos, so please read this one and disregard the other one. Love and peace to all.

    Happy New Year to all nurses and the patients in our tender care. It was quite moving to read all the shares on this blog. It was an honor to witness the joy and pain so honestly expressed. Here is a bit of my story.

    I am a Nurse Practitioner in a family planning clinic. I love my mission and my patients. I love being able to provide excellent reproductive healthcare, prevent pregnancies until wanted, treat STIs, manage abnormal Paps, etc. I love talking to and listening to my patient’s struggles and triumphs as they live their lives. Most of my patients say they like our clinic best because we are friendly and helpful and do not judge. There are lots of intangible rewards.

    Three decades ago, in my brand new RN days, I worked as a hospital floor nurse. Orientation was a joke, I was passing meds and carrying a patient load on my own after barely a week. I was thrown onto the pediatric floor on my own one night when I “complained” I did not feel comfortable on L&D on my own. My employer was a rural hospital with so few RNs, I was trained by per diem RNs, LPNs, and aides. They were excellent nurses. Hospital work was a crucible for me and it was a miracle my patients and I survived. I have huge respect for hospital nurses and the work they do.

    My current work situation requires that we do more and more with less and less, just like in the hospitals. Most of our patients have no insurance or no clue how to access it if they do have it. Four patients per hour, including new patients, procedures, whatever is how we are scheduled. The no shows are supposed give us enough slack in the schedule to catch up. Most of the time it works; there are times we stay late and there are things that do not get done or done well. We have a 30 minute unpaid lunch break and 2 – 15 minute paid breaks. That is a joke. We have newly acquired EHR this year, and I have learned two new technical skills that bring in more patients and more money to the clinic, no raise. My coworker, who is an LPN, recently acquired a new skill, is in charge of patient care, most follow up, supplies, cleaning, etc, makes the same amount as the clinic receptionists/clinic assistants. The assistants work the front desk, and can take vitals, do pregnancy tests, draw blood, and set up, clean up the rooms, that is it. No assessments, no worries…. Our manager barely shows up as she is responsible for six other clinics and to management. She manages by email.

    So, what is the bottom line? We have a seriously dysfunctional healthcare system that values profits and administrative concerns over people. Patients are not treated the way they should and neither are nurses or allied staff. Nurses do most of the work, the hard, time consuming (and most rewarding): the direct care, the management of patient care, the patient prep that allows doctors to do what they do. While our jobs are cut, pay is curbed, benefits cut, patient loads increased, where does the money go? To doctors, especially specialists who do complicated procedures, administrators, drug companies, medical equipment companies, insurance companies and their corporate shareholders, and let’s not forget lobbyists who feed the corporate line to congress.

    But wait, it looks bleak, no doubt about that. Nurses, please know that all is not lost. Nurses have the clout to change the system from within! We are more powerful than we think.

    As nurses, we know stress causes disease. We are sick and making ourselves sicker by holding on to our old ways. Nurses are healers. We need to heal ourselves. We are worth it, we deserve it, our patients and the system will benefit from it. We must find our inner strength and access our inner healer. How to do this? THINK DIFFERENT, to quote the late, great, brilliant Steve Jobs.

    Our pain is telling us it is time to change! According to Henry Cloud: “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.” Say this three times, out loud, then continue below.

    Do whatever you need to do to be good to yourself. Taking a mental health day when needed is a good start. Finding like minded nurses is essential so we can support each other and create the changes we want. Get stress reduction programs started in your institution.

    Learn about the new movement called YogaNursing. Yoga Nursing unites the ancient wisdom of yoga with the science of modern nursing. The mission of YogaNursing is to create an army of yoga nurses, modern day nightingales, who will transform healthcare. Learn more at http://www.yoganurse.com

    We are strong and we are growing. Will you join us?

  7. I really feel that if nursing was a predominately male profession then many of the problems and stressors that we face every day would have been rectified a long time ago.
    As women and caregivers we always feel we can do it all and be it all and handle one more thing.
    I am not arguing male vs. female. The facts are that being predominently female, we are not heard quite as loudly or as seriously as males in any profession.

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