Nurses & Self Care

Our Self Care is Lacking – BIG TIME!

Desire to do good work

Alleviate SufferingMost of us went into the nursing profession to help people. We want to alleviate suffering, promote wellness and give compassionate care to others. Nursing education is rigorous, expensive and time consuming. Those men and women who forge ahead and earn their RN license enter the profession with stars in their eyes and a desire for good work. Too often the realities of real world jobs in nursing leave new nurses bewildered and stressed.  The truth is, we do not engage in healthy lifestyles and behaviors or practice self-care effectively.  In fact, nurses’ health indicators demonstrate high levels of obesity, depression, suicide and substance abuse. My website has reference articles that lay out the statistics and tell the story of this unfortunate reality.  Nursing is a stressful job and the stressors may lead to these outcomes.

In response, the ANA has launched the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation campaign to inspire self-care and effective health behaviors for nurses. Topics include rest, activity, nutrition, exercise and stress reduction. State associations, health settings and nursing organizations are joining this campaign and urging nurses to realize and address the fact that health care is in large part a decision that we each make many times a day. To be effective with patients we need to model healthy behaviors to the extent possible.

It’s In Our Hands

My personal trainer reminds me that no one else can do my sit-ups for me. If I eat the extra helping of desert-it shows up on my waistline. As the largest group of providers of healthcare and wellness, nurses need to walk their talk and do what is possible to practice healthy habits.

The nursing profession and all practitioners need to become aware of the incidence and prevalence of substance abuse, suicide and obesity among their ranks. Plans for recognition and treatment of these disorders need to be formulated and implemented to help nurses cope with the demands of the job. Education of nurse managers and nurse educators is called for as are individuals who can counsel and advise nurses who are troubled. Let’s share ideas and suggestions for responding to the alarming data.

Parting Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong-I am a dedicated life long nurse and nurse advocate. The challenges and realities of practicing nurses is something I care about deeply. I would be interested in hearing YOUR views on nurses and self-care. What can and what should we be doing to change these realities? Several programs that I have seen that support practice are nurse residencies that provide new graduates with mentoring and support as they transition into the workplace. Providing fitness programs and relaxation areas are another.  Taking a stand against nurse on nurse bullying would make a difference. What do you think?  What care plan should we craft for our profession and ourselves?