The Top 10 Causes of Stress in Nursing

In the US, there is a serious nursing shortage that is likely to get worse over time. In fact, experts estimate that there will be a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of nurses by 2030. Unfortunately, part of the problem is that the profession can be extremely taxing. Stress in nursing is a common problem, which is why many organizations could benefit from the services of a nurse coach.

Dr. Feyi can explain to doctors and administrators why so many nurses are feeling stressed. She can go over common workplace issues such as work overload, time pressure, a lack of support from colleagues, discrimination, unclear role descriptions, and a lack of career opportunities. Then, she can suggest solutions that improve nurses’ working conditions and reduce the risk of nurse burnout.

The Top 10 Causes of Stress in Nursing a Nurse Coach Can Help With

1. Work Overload

The nursing shortage is a vicious cycle. The fewer nurses there are, the more work there is for the ones that remain. Over time, this excessive workload puts pressure on the nurses, and they burn out or quit to find a more relaxed position. This, in turn, reduces the number of nurses there is, and the pressure increases further.

Although this is an institutional problem, each nurse can make sure they are optimally prepared for their long working days. Dr. Feyi can help individuals figure out whether they are taking good care of themselves, for example by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, pursuing hobbies outside of work, and speaking to friends, family members, or counselors about their feelings and challenges.

2. Time Pressure

Another issue is that nursing is often associated with time pressure. Because there are so many tasks, they have to be completed quickly. What’s more, nurses who work in emergency rooms or intensive care units must work at top speed to help save the lives of their patients. Over time, this can wear them down and lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout.

To prevent such issues, many hospitals and other medical institutions allow nurses to change their departments every few months. However, some nurses specialize in a certain kind of medicine, so they spend most of their time in the same department. Anyone working in a high-stress job that requires a lot of speed should practice meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises. What’s more, selecting calm and quiet hobbies could provide some balance.

3. Pressure and a Lack of Support from Colleagues

While stressful situations and work overload can lead to problems, they aren’t usually enough to cause burnout or prompt nurses to change their field. However, these issues are often made worse by a negative work environment. Sometimes, superiors such as doctors and administrators aren’t supportive of nurses. They might be too demanding, unfriendly, dismissive, or even abusive.

Bullying in healthcare is a serious problem, and it should be addressed at an institutional level. Staff should be allowed access to resources and mentors who can help improve the atmosphere. If there is a problem between two employees, they should receive support in the form of mediation or counseling. The more supportive the work environment, the more likely it is that nurses will stay long-term.

4. Frequent Illness

It goes without saying that nursing is a dangerous profession. While this has been highlighted during the recent pandemic, medical professionals have always known that they are at high risk of contracting infectious diseases. This can be a serious issue because nurses might need to either take a lot of time off or keep working when they are not feeling their best.

In recent years, medical professionals have had to work while wearing a large amount of personal protective equipment to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. While this has prevented disease, it has made the work harder and more uncomfortable. The added stress of having to source and wear PPE has made life even more difficult for nurses.

5. Violence, Threats, or Discrimination

In some hospitals, there are still problems with discrimination. Nurses who belong to a minority due to their race, country of origin, or sexual orientation might face negative comments or threats from their peers and superiors. Fortunately, this is becoming less common, and many medical institutions have started to take steps to be more inclusive in the last few years.

An added issue is violence from patients. People who are ill or injured often have much less self-control than those who are well, so they might insult or even physically harm nurses. While such behavior is unacceptable and can be prosecuted, it still occurs on a regular basis, and it is a real threat for medical professionals. It is estimated that one out of every four nurses has been assaulted on the job.

6. An Unclear Role

The exact tasks associated with a nurse’s job aren’t always clear. For example, one doctor might tell the nurse to perform a job during their shift, and the next doctor might tell them off for it. This can cause confusion, frustration, and increased stress in nursing. Over time, an unclear role can reduce the nurse’s motivation and enthusiasm for their job.

Fortunately, this issue is easy to resolve as long as everyone works together. Hospitals or other medical facilities should develop very clear guidelines regarding each employee’s role and ask everyone to stick to them. Sometimes, asking for help from a nurse coach or mentor could be a good idea. This professional can guide decision-makers through the process and make sure the tasks expected of the nursing staff are realistic.

7. Dealing with Difficult Situations

Every aspiring nurse knows that they will face challenging situations as part of their work, but it’s hard to adequately prepare for seeing the many issues people face. This is a particular problem for nurses working in emergency rooms, intensive care units, and pediatric units, since these are typically the departments with the most challenging cases. Although difficult and tragic situations are normal in a hospital, they can still impact nurses emotionally.

Over time, medical professionals often experience compassion fatigue, which is an indifference towards people who are suffering. This can reduce the nurse’s motivation and their ability to treat patients optimally. Setting boundaries, practicing self-care, surrounding yourself with positive people, and creating balance in your life are great ways of reducing the impact of difficult situations.

8. Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is one of the most important processes in our bodies because it removes toxins from our brains and allows us to process the events of the day. It affects nearly all our functions, including our ability to develop immunity and fight disease, our cognition, our metabolism, and our ability to function physically. A good amount of sleep also reduces our risk of contracting countless chronic diseases.

Unfortunately, the long shifts and nighttime work associated with the profession often prevent nurses from getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. This affects stress levels and ability to function. Getting enough sleep should be a priority for all healthcare workers because it allows them to do a better job and significantly reduces the risk of burnout.

9. A Lack of Career Opportunities

While the starting salary is sometimes low, nurses can earn a good amount of money over time. However, there is often a plateau beyond which career progression is difficult. This lack of progression can make medical professionals feel frustrated and lead to a higher rate of job switching or quitting. Ensuring equal opportunity for everyone should be a priority for hospitals or medical facilities. A simple solution is to allow people from all ethnicities and backgrounds to provide input when making high-level decisions and selecting new people for leadership roles.

10. A Lack of Trained Colleagues

As discussed, there is a serious nursing shortage in the US. As a result, some people who are underqualified or not suitable for the job are employed. What’s more, not all new nurses are trained well because there is very little time to spend on education within hospitals. This puts additional pressure on the other nurses because they have to either educate the new arrivals or complete the tasks the more junior employees are incapable of performing.

Although there is no simple solution for hospitals suffering from understaffing, there are several options. In some facilities, doctors have taken on roles that were traditionally reserved for nurses. Other institutions have started making use of technological solutions to automate certain processes, allowing employees to focus on their jobs instead of having to deal with paperwork.

Stress in nursing is extremely common. Some of the reasons include an unsupportive work environment, a high workload, time pressure, discrimination, sleep deprivation, and a lack of career opportunities. Get in touch with WaistedRN today to find out more about Dr. Feyi’s mentoring program and motivational keynote speaking availability. As an experienced nurse coach, she can help hospitals and other medical institutions find ways to engage and retain their nurses.