Nurses provide around-the-clock care for patients and their families. As a nurse, you give of yourself to another person day in and day out. No matter where you work, whatever kind of nursing role you do, the profession of nursing itself can be a challenging job.
Today’s healthcare environment challenges nurses to do more work with less resources. While increased productivity could very well be a good thing, there are unintended consequences to consistently pushing the nursing staff harder each day.
Stress in Nursing
Both individual nurses and the organizations that employ them are feeling the pressures of the shifting healthcare landscape. Here are just some of the stresses faced by the nurse each and every day:
- Budget cuts that ask nurses to do more work with less resources
- Staffing ratios that create unsafe working conditions for staff and patients
- The aging workforce and the profession of nursing’s inability to keep up
- Nurse bullying and other forms of lateral violence and nursing incivility
- Long hours, overtime, and mandates shifts from short staffing issues
The individual nurse feels tired and overworked while the organization just does not know what to do to keep their nurses happy and healthy.
A Win Win for All
We can view the current conditions as very bleak. Or we can look at the challenges and perceive opportunity. There are things that both the individual nurse and their employer can do to make things better! What an inspiration!!
[bctt tweet=”Here Are 5 Brilliant Strategies for Healthier Workplaces in Nursing” username=”ElizabethScala”]
For the Individual
1. Assess Yourself. Hey we are nurses, right? Why not use an old, but successful strategy? Assess yourself and what you enjoy. If you want to enjoy a healthier work environment, one of the first things you need to do is be healthy yourself.
If you are feeling tired, angry, bored, or frustrated with something in the workplace… that is likely going to cloud your judgment. In order to create a healthier workplace, you need to find the things that you enjoy. Figure out what self-care activities work for you and start doing them.
2. Notice What’s Working. And what’s not. It does not make sense to say that you are going to run for your health and well-being activity if you really do not enjoy running. Why? You got it! You will avoid it like the plague.
Part of strategy number one above as it pertains to the assessment means that it does not stop there. You also have to evaluate yourself and the self-care activity that you attempted. What worked? What did not work? What was fun? What was boring about it? How can you learn from your experiences so that you set yourself up for success going forward?
3. Change It Up. Avoid the pitfall of a self-care rut! The last thing you want to happen is that you get so stuck into a routine that it is no longer effective.
Let’s use the running example from above (even though, I do not enjoy running myself and you will not see me jogging my neighborhood). So, you decided that you are going to run for a healthy activity. You run five miles. Ten. And over and over again. Same path, same place. You can do it in your sleep. You can do it without shoes! What is the one negative thing that can happen from overdoing it?
Your body gets “used to” the activity and it no longer has the same impact that it did. Sure, you can still run. But maybe it is in a new place. Or now you go into the woods and do some trail running. You have to keep changing things up so that you avoid getting stuck in a health routine rut.
For the Employer
4. Ask and Listen. Employees are all different. No single nurse that you employ looks or feels exactly like another one. I may enjoy Yoga while Joe may like to run.
You need to ask your nurses what kind of self-care activity they want. And then deliver on what they tell you. Part of bringing a healthy activity to the workplace involves doing your research. Gather the data. Ask the employees and then carry out what they requested. You will get a lot more buy in when you put together healthy workplace strategies that they actually want.
5. Make It Fun. Your nurses are coming to work to work hard. They give their best. All of the time. Many show up giving over 110% of themselves. And they are serious about their roles.
A fast way for a healthy workplace strategy to fail is for it to feel like more work. This goes back to what was suggested in strategy number one regarding the assessment. You do not want your nurses to feel like they have to DO more or GIVE something else. You want them to actually take part in the healthy workplace events because it is fun and gratifying for them to do so.
The very best thing we as individual nurses and nursing organizations who employ us can do is partner together. A healthy workplace comes from a team effort. It involves joy, play, and appreciation. Well, guess what. You don’t have to go it alone!
We have not one. Not two.
But THREE Art of Nursing guest interviews dedicated to self-care and healthy workplaces. Kathleen Flarity, DNP, PhD, CEN, CFRN, FAEN will cover compassion fatigue. Caroline Sanchez, MSN, RN, OCN, CBCN, RYT 200hr teaches us about joy replenishment through play. And Marie Shanahan, MA, BSN, RN, HN-BC wraps things up with strategies to bringing self-care into the workplace. Will you be joining us?!?
Let’s hear from you! What do you think about healthier workplaces for nurses? Have you ever tried to make your nursing career a healthier one? What did you do to bring health to you, your colleagues, and your place of employment? Leave a comment and thank you for reading.
About the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.