Healthcare is constantly changing, and information technology is informing and guiding this change all along. Nurses are an integral part of healthcare where they work in a high-pressure environment. Nurses have a myriad of responsibilities. They assist the patients with medication administration, helping them with the doctor’s appointment, requesting medical tests and screenings, updating the paperwork, helping them navigate systems in the hospitals, and much more. Owing to these responsibilities, the job of a nurse is incredibly important. However, they face a lot of problems in their profession. Nurses, the beating heart of healthcare, need the policymakers to hear their grievances and understand their personal and professional needs, which often fall by the wayside. Here are some of the problems that nurses face today.
- The Need For Higher Educational Qualification
With more diseases and infections surfacing, there is an upsurge in the need for a skilled workforce. The treatment of patients with novel diseases and unheard-of viruses requires nurses who can evolve in the changing healthcare. Nurses need to treat their patients with more evidence-based practices and maintain higher standards of patient care. More nurses are forced to go back to school or enroll in remote learning programs to upskill themselves, increasing their interest in fast-track RN to MSN programs.
Since nurses are required on the floor of the hospitals, they have to manage their education along with their regular nursing duties. This is why more nurses opt for degrees like an RN to MSN program online. Many nurses work on their assignments and homework in the middle of the night, navigating their way home life and duties.
- Burnout And Compassion Fatigue
The issue of employee burnout is present in all careers, but this issue is graver in the case of nurses. Burnout is when you feel constant mental, emotional and physical strain due to overwork, stress, long working hours, and an inability to develop a work-life balance, have a rest and proper sleep, or simply take proper meals on time. Because of the nurse’s job, the above-mentioned stressors are a regular part of their job. The consequences of burnout in nursing include emotional detachments from the patients, depersonalization (a detachment from clients and colleagues), and a lack of confidence to perform their job.
Nurses have to do mandatory overtime, which, coupled with an overall staff shortage, overwork them even more. Moreover, due to the rampant issue of burnout, many nurses also opt to leave their careers in the middle. The dramatic increase in mandatory overtime results in more turnover in nurses. This practice of forcing the currently present nurses to make up for the nursing shortage has a severe negative effect, fostering medical errors and declining levels of patient care. A Journal of Nursing Administration study corresponds that frequent overtimes decline collaborative working. Consequently, the study proposed declining overtime hours and training for fatigue management and education.
- Nursing Shortage
The biggest issue plaguing healthcare today is the shortage of nurses. According to the estimates of the BLS, 11 million additional nurses are needed to fulfill the need and avoid further shortage. As a result of the shortage, the current on-duty nurses have to do the job of many nurses simultaneously. Therefore, they are always overburdened at the hospital. Today nurses are taking multiple shifts, covering for the shortage of their coworkers.
Being overwhelmed and stressed is inevitable when you constantly neglect your family. Inappropriate staffing levels affect the personal and social lives of the nurses and can also impact the quality of patient care. Overworked nurses cannot take care of their patients with full zeal and energy.
- Long Working Hours
Most nurses work in shifts, with each shift comprising of twelve hours. Long working hours are either a shortage of nursing staff, or the management might be motivated by cost-cutting initiatives. In either case, long working hours are not conducive to the proper working of nursing. Ultimately, they fail to adhere to high levels of patient care and even sacrifice their health and wellbeing.
When nurses work for long hours, they do not take proper food or rest. The time between the shifts is so short for the body to recover from the fatigue. As a result, nurses often report chronic back pain, leg and shoulder strains, and persistent headaches. Some develop even severe, lasting issues such as diabetes and heart problems. You will often find nurses complaining about not sleeping enough or taking their meals properly. Loss of sleep is highly detrimental because it impacts your reflexes, cognitive functions, cloud judgment, and decision-making ability.
- Workplace Discrimination
Nurses looking down on their juniors is not a new issue; it has been swamping healthcare for years now. New nurses coming into this profession often have to face the criticism of their senior counterparts. Being a nurse, you have to learn how to do things, gain new skills related to a work setting and navigate the systems in healthcare.
New nurses may be subjected to insults when they make mistakes. This issue is more prevalent in settings where older nurses are not very welcoming and consider the new as their competition. This toxic attitude is enough for new nurses to question their abilities and if the decision to be a nurse was right. Ideally, veteran nurses must help new nurses learn. Instead of reprimands and insults, they need mentoring and support from the current nurses. With the welcoming attitude of the older nurses, the new ones tend to make fewer mistakes, respect and oblige the older nurses and seek guidance from them.
A nurse’s job is not a walkover; to reach a level where you are respected for your work, you have to pass through many hurdles. Often these hurdles are a part of the system, for instance, older nurses making it difficult for the new nurses to adjust. Other times the problems come from the inherent nature of the job, for instance, long working hours, nursing shortage, workplace harassment, mandatory overtimes, burnout, frequent neglect of the family, and an absence of a work-life balance. Regardless, people still want to be part of the nursing fraternity because of this profession’s reliable and development-oriented nature.