How Stressed are RNs?
By Theresa Mills, staff writer
You’ve been called a superhero--and in many ways you are. But perhaps it’s not always a good idea to elevate human beings to such an extraordinary status. Not because it’s not true, but because it raises expectations to levels that are nearly impossible to sustain.
RNs are human, plain and simple. You all need sleep, you need family time and you need relaxation and fun. Yet, as each year passes, it seems the job is getting more complex and demanding:
• New technology is requiring additional time and new skill sets
• New healthcare regulations mean that RNs are overwhelmed with paperwork
• Advanced education is becoming the expected norm
• Fewer clinicians are entering the workforce
• More nurses are retiring
Beat Burnout with a Travel Nursing Assignment
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are currently 3 million nurses in the workforce. Yet with more Baby Boomers aging, the BLS predicts that there will be 1.2 million nursing vacancies between 2014 and 2022.
What does this mean for permanent nurses? More work, longer shifts and less sleep.
In a survey of 3,312 RNs titled: “Are You Way Too Stressed Out?” the Vickie Milazzo Institute reported:
• 77% of respondents cited that they rarely eat properly
• 82% found it difficult to strike a work/life balance
• 88% said they found it difficult to do something fun at least 1x per week
• 64% of survey respondents said they rarely get 7-8 hours of sleep
This kind of unnatural stress can lead to hypertension, GI issues, weight gain, depression, and diabetes. Suddenly, America’s central healthcare providers are suffering from health conditions of their own.
So how do you cope with increasing demands?
The American Nursing Association recommends the following:
Examine work demands with respect to shift length. Twelve-hour shifts are more tolerable for "lighter" tasks (such as desk work).
Plan one or two full days of rest to follow five consecutive 8-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts. Consider two rest days after three consecutive 12-hour shifts.
Another important consideration for overworked and stressed-out RNs is travel nursing. For some clinicians, travel nursing has provided the break they needed to avoid burnout.
Travel nursing provides key physical and mental benefits:
1. Flexibility – You choose your location, assignment type and length of assignment. As a travel nurse, you’re in control of your career.
2. Change of scenery – Exploring different facilities and different areas of the country can stimulate your brain and revitalize your soul.
3. Increased activity – Travel nurses report hiking more and exercising more on their assignments to new locations.
4. Social contact – Travel nurses break out of the hum drum routine and find that, meeting new people opens them up to new ideas and experiences.
5. Financial security – Travel nurses receive free housing, healthcare benefits, great pay, bonuses and incentives and even a 401(K) plan.
6. The vacation you’ve needed – Many travel nurses liken travel nursing to a paid vacation. They choose destinations they’ve always wanted to visit and spend their days off exploring.
7. Freedom from politics – Travel nurses are only in a facility for a limited time, so they enjoy being shielded from internal politics.
8. Learning – Travel nurses learn new skills, different procedures and often have the opportunity to work with technology they’ve never used before. Travel nurses also have the benefit of discounts on continuing education.
While the nursing profession may be getting more demanding, travel nurses have more options and choices than ever before. So rather than waiting for burnout to take hold, give yourself a break and give travel nursing a try.
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