Essential Mental Health Strategies for Nurses

Essential Mental Health Strategies for Nurses

Nurses are a critical part of the healthcare system during public health emergencies. They are highly trusted, compassionate, and willing to go to great lengths to protect their patients. However, with no clear endpoint, COVID-19 is not a typical public health crisis and has created a range of mental health challenges for nurses.

Today’s nurses are working under a cloud of fear and stress, which can lead to physical and psychological symptoms. However, there are steps that nurses can take to minimize the effects of high-stress levels and keep themselves and their families balanced.

A Two-Pronged Approach to Managing Stress

Stress levels cannot be managed through mental health strategies alone. Making healthy lifestyle choices can directly affect an individual’s outlook on life, energy levels, and mood. These five tactics can create a positive impact on mental health:

  1. Eat regular meals – focus on whole foods that decrease inflammation and build immunity
  2. Stay hydrated – choose water instead of caffeinated beverages, which can cause headaches and mood swings
  3. Exercise regularly – a simple walk with the dog can keep anxiety and depression symptoms at bay
  4. Limit alcohol consumption and refrain from smoking
  5. Make sleep a priority and practice good sleep hygiene

When it comes to managing stress levels, a nurse’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Incorporating these self-love strategies into your daily routine can help:

  1. Practice meditation and/or mindfulness exercises
  2. Make time for relaxation
  3. Take mini-breaks throughout the workday to practice deep breathing
  4. Keep in touch with friends and family
  5. Limit exposure to media coverage of the pandemic
  6. Lower expectations of yourself and others, reminding yourself that “done” is better than “perfect”
  7. Practice positive self-talk, such as “nurses have a purpose and make a difference”
  8. Talk it out with colleagues or a supervisor, because nurses don’t have to walk this road alone
  9. Accept help when offered, and ask for support when needed

Help Children Manage Stress

Nurses with children at home have a responsibility to help them understand and respond to our changing world. Children may pick up on the stress that a parent is feeling and struggle to understand what is wrong. Children need to receive reassurance and guidance that’s centered around safety, consistency, and love.

Here are some tips to help children manage stress:

  • Maintain a consistent family routine – establish set bedtimes and meal times
  • Include children in conversations about the pandemic, but keep their age in mind and help them navigate their feelings
  • Set family rules for proper hygiene
  • Make routines fun for kids – consider singing during handwashing or developing games for wearing masks
  • Remind children that the situation is temporary
  • Allow children to help out around the house to give them a way to contribute – young children can carry dishes to the sink and help tidy up, while older children can take on bigger chores such as cleaning and yard work
  • Reassure children that the parent is safe in their job

Additional recommending reading:

Symptoms of Excessive Stress

Nurses should self-monitor their mental health status on a regular basis and take action when necessary. Symptoms of depression can include:

  • Sleep difficulties
  • Persistent crying or sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Nurses who are forced to make clinical decisions that conflict with their ethical training may experience signs of moral distress, such as feeling guilty or ashamed. Other symptoms to watch for include:

  • Difficulty with decision-making or memory
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Risky behaviors
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches, palpitations, and gastrointestinal issues

Nurses experiencing moral distress or consistent symptoms of depression should talk to their supervisor and seek professional help. Early intervention can be critical to working through moral dilemmas and extreme stress. Nurses seeking to connect with a mental health professional can contact their insurance provider for options in their area.

Mental Health Resources

Anyone experiencing suicidal or homicidal thoughts should call 911.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association lists the following crisis hotlines:

It’s Okay to Take a Break

Nurses who have decided to step away from bedside nursing amid the pandemic should keep in mind that they are not alone. Taking a break and hitting the reset button can be the difference between a nurse developing serious mental health problems and a nurse maintaining their sanity. Some nurses may use this time to further their education from the comfort of their home by enrolling in an online nursing program. An online program can keep the nurse’s knowledge current while potentially offering a pathway to a better position and higher future earnings.

Self-care is vital to a nurse’s health and well-being, especially in the face of a pandemic. Nurses can fill their mental health “bucket” throughout the day using tools of the trade, and perform regular mental health gut checks to ensure that they get the help they need when they need it.

Cindy Blye, RN

Cindy Blye, RN

Cindy Blye is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in Newborn Intensive Care, Pediatrics, and Case Management. Her works include pediatric nurse certification review materials, policies and procedures, training materials, nursing blog articles, health and wellness articles, and local business reviews. Cindy has three grown children and lives with her husband in North Carolina where she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and cooking.

5 Best Nurse Jobs For Moms

5 Best Nurse Jobs For Moms

What are the best nurse jobs for moms?

Having a baby changes everything.  New mothers may want to think about alternative nurse careers that provide more flexibility for their growing family.   It is possible to be great in both areas.

Fortunately, there are so many flexible nurse careers out there for nurses who are ready for a change or just want to step away from the bedside.

Becoming a mother is a full-time job in itself.  Depending on your work-life situation, you might want to consider working in a nursing field that is more flexible and offers you the balance that you need.  Childcare can be a challenge for nurses, especially for moms who work 12-hour shifts.

In no particular order, here are 5 of the best nurse jobs for moms:

#1.  Per diem nursing

The best nurse jobs for moms- per diem nursing

#1. Best nurse jobs for moms: per diem nursing

To work “per diem” means to work “by the day.” Per diem nurses are essential to every hospital organization because they allow the administration to fill in gaps where they don’t have enough nurses scheduled to work.  It also will enable nurses who don’t have a very flexible schedule, like new moms, to pick the exact hours and days that they can work.

Per diem nurses are often required to work a specific amount of shifts each month.  As a per diem nurse myself, I am required to work a minimum of four shifts in a thirty day period.   However, I can ask to work as many shifts as I want.  It puts me in an excellent position to earn money-  I work on all of the days that I have childcare scheduled, and I don’t have to worry about being scheduled on the days I don’t.

Also, per diem nurses are usually able to call off within a specific time frame before a shift starts.  For example, if my child becomes sick 12 hours before the start of a nursing shift, and I know I will be unable to work the next day, then I can cancel myself.  It leaves a lot of wiggle room for me to schedule or unschedule myself when I need to be at home with my children.  Most working moms don’t have that kind of flexibility, and it helps relieve a lot of stress.

The one drawback to per diem nursing is that you are only paid on the days that you work – you don’t have an allotment of sick days.  Also, if the facility does not need any additional staffing, then you might get canceled.  Which might not be OK if you were depending on the money you were going to earn that day.

Why being a per diem nurse is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:

  • Total flexibility over work schedules
  • Ability to call-off at the last minute
  • Higher per hour pay then career nursing

 

#2.  School Nurse

The best nurse jobs for moms- school nurse

#2.  Best nurse jobs for moms:  school nurse

School nurses work in educational facilities, including public and private schools (K through 12).  They support students and staff who become ill at work or need other kinds of medical attention.

Also, many school nurses are educators and teach various health topics to kids, such as healthy eating and the importance of physical exercise.  School nurses address the physical and mental needs of students, which helps them succeed in school and sets them up for success in the future.

Becoming a school nurse is an excellent job for nurses who are mothers because you would work during regular school hours -the same hours that your children would be at school.  It also means that you wouldn’t have to work weekends, night shifts, or holidays.

Many school nurses find the career rewarding because you are able to help start kids out on the right health track from their early years.  Many studies show that long term health has a greater success rate when children are taught healthy habits from an early age.  School-age kids are impressionable, and nurses can make a significant impact on how they take care of their health as they grow up.

Why being a school nurse is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:

  • Only work during regular school hours (no weekends, nights or holidays)
  • A rewarding career helping children develop healthy habits from a young age

Additional recommended reading:  

 

#.  Case management

The best nurse jobs for moms- case management

#3.  Best nurse jobs for moms: case management

Case management is another great opportunity for working moms because you can help patients through planning, care coordination, facilitation, and advocacy of patient’s medical needs.  Case managers collaborate with all outside aspects of patient care to make sure the patient stays safe and gets the care they need.

According to the Case Management Society of America, “Case Management is a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation, care coordination, evaluation, and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s and family’s comprehensive health needs through communication and available resources to promote patient safety, quality of care, and cost-effective outcomes.”

Additional recommended reading:  8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Nurse

#4.  Telehealth nursing

The best nurse jobs for moms- teleheath nurse

#4.  Best nurse jobs for moms:  teleheath nurse

Telehealth nursing is when nurses can give nursing care, information, or advice to patients over the phone.  It also helps to improve efficiency in the healthcare system and help to treat patients in remote areas who otherwise would not be able to receive care.

Telehealth nurses work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and for corporations.  It is becoming more widely used in recent years due to improvements in technology and an ncreasing need to help patients remotely.

Why telehealth is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:

  • Ability to work remotely from home
  • Able to help patients without having to work strenuous shifts in the hospital

#5.  Advice Nurse

Best jobs for nurses - advice nurse

#5.  Best jobs for nurses:  advice nurse

When patients are not feeling well at home or have a question about a medical issue, advice nurses are used to help field questions via phone.  One of the most significant benefits to patients is that it helps them determine what kind of medical care they need before they come into the hospital.

Why advice nursing is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:

  • Flexible hours
  • Sometimes a work from home position
  • Less strenuous then 12-hour work shifts at the hospital
  • Ability to help patients remotely

In conclusion

There are so many alternative nurse careers for nurses who are moms.  In fact, that is one of the best reasons to become a nurse – the nursing profession offers so many unique career opportunities that other professions simply do not.

Take care of your family first, and fit your nursing career in a way that serves your family best.  Good luck!

Additional recommended reading:

3 Healthy School-Day Breakfast Ideas for Kids

3 Healthy School-Day Breakfast Ideas for Kids

Do you have a hard time coming up with healthy breakfast ideas for the kids before they head off to school?

School mornings can be fairly hectic if you’re a parent. However, even though getting your kids on their way to school is time-consuming and challenging, the odds are good you’d still like to provide them with nutritious meals.

The odds are also good you don’t know how you’ll find the time every morning to achieve that goal. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to check out the best meal delivery service for kids. In addition to that option, check out these recipes. They offer nutrients your kids need, they taste great, and you don’t need to spend your entire morning prepping them.

Here are easy and healthy school-day breakfast ideas for kids to start the school day off on the right foot.

Breakfast Parfait

Breakfast parfait made from Greek yogurt and granola topped with fresh berries.

Sure, parfait may not be the first meal that comes to every parent’s mind when they think of kid-friendly breakfasts, but making this option appeal to your children is easier than you might think.

All you have to do is grab a clear plastic cup and fill the bottom of it with honey. Use your judgment to determine how much honey you should use. While you don’t want your kids to consume too much sugar, the sweetness can help you sneak in more healthful ingredients.

One of them is yogurt. Greek yogurt offers a range of health benefits. These include supporting bone health, providing your children with much-needed protein, boosting their gut health, and much more. Add a few spoonfuls to the cup, making sure the honey is thoroughly covered.

You’ll add fruit next. Options to consider include raspberries, blueberries, or banana slices. Finally, top the whole concoction with your child’s favorite cereal.  This is a healthy breakfast idea that your kids will love. 

Homemade Breakfast Sandwiches

An egg, ham, and cheese breakfast sandwich will keep you full until lunch.

True, making your own breakfast sandwiches during busy school mornings might not seem like the smartest idea, but this recipe is still worth considering because you can make these sandwiches ahead of time and freeze them. If you have a little bit of spare time on the weekend, set it aside to prep these for the week ahead.

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray and crack an egg into each muffin mold. Gently pierce the yolk of each. Bake the eggs for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they have set, then gently slide them out of the molds. Next, slice English muffins (one for each egg) and add a slice of cheese (your preference), three slices of ham, and an egg. 

Wrap these in plastic and freeze them. When you’re ready to heat one, remove it from the plastic, wrap it in a paper towel, and microwave on 50% power for about one minute. Then, flip the sandwich over to the other side, and microwave again on full power for another minute.

Breakfast Casserole

Make a breakfast casserole in a slow cooker and wake up to a delicious breakfast.

Sometimes, the best breakfast ideas for kids begin in the slow cooker the night before. 

This recipe is worth keeping in mind for two reasons. One, you can make it ahead of time in a slow cooker, so you don’t have to rush to whip up a meal in the morning. Two, it can yield very big servings, making it a perfect option if you have a lot of mouths to feed.

Spray your slow cooker (this recipe is for a 6-quart slow cooker) with non-stick spray. Add half a 30 oz. bag of hash browns. Then, add a half-pound layer of browned and drained breakfast sausage. Next, add a four oz. layer of cheddar cheese and a four-oz. layer of mozzarella cheese. Then, repeat the entire process, starting with the hash browns and using the same measurements. Finally, whisk together 12 eggs, half a cup of milk, and salt and pepper to your liking, drizzling the mixture over the contents of the slow cooker. Cook on low for eight hours and wake up to a breakfast your family will love.

Again, if you’re a parent, busy mornings don’t need to prevent you from feeding your family well. These simple recipes prove it!

Additional recommend reading:

3 Ways Being a Nurse Prepared Me For Motherhood

3 Ways Being a Nurse Prepared Me For Motherhood

Being a nurse helped prepare me for motherhood.

Nothing can prepare any parent for the insanity of parenthood, because it’s impossible to understand its complexity until you’re there.  However, after working as a nurse for so many years before having my children, I do think it gave me a tiny edge.  

As an emergency room nurse, I work in a lot of unusual and often stressful situations involving the health and wellbeing of my patients.    Admittedly, I’m exhausted on my days off, and sometimes I feel guilty for working such long hours.

But even though I often feel overwhelmed with my crazy life as a working mom, I am so grateful for how my experience as a registered nurse has helped prepare me for motherhood. 

Additional recommended reading:  Is Nursing A Good Career For Moms?

Toddlers can act just like miniature psych patients.

In the ER, I deal with every single type of mental and psychiatric disorder ever documented in the literature.   We work with everything from homicidal schizophrenia to depression or anxiety and everything in between.

Some of the most exciting conversations I have with my two-year-old remind me of similar situations and conversations that I have had working as a healthcare professional.

For example, I have watched my toddler throw herself on the floor in a fit of tears because I didn’t peel the banana “the right way” (believe it or not, I have had similar conversations with patients).   I guess you could say that I have had a lot of experience with having irrational discussions over the years.  

As a result of my experience working in an ER with an acute psych ward, I have almost no reaction when my toddler melts down or breaks into a fit of rage out of nowhere.  I have had too much experience dealing with angry, irrational patients.  Having composure and speaking with respect is always the winning choice and warrants the best response in both scenarios.  (When a nurse gets mad back at a patient, the patients yells louder.  It’s the same with toddlers).

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I stopped worrying about things that aren’t worth my worry.

As a nurse and mom, I am generally more concerned about the things that might seriously injure or kill my children.  Sure, a broken arm would suck, and no mom wants to see their child in pain. But a broken bone won’t kill you. Like, for example, falling out a window in a home that hasn’t been childproofed could.

I want my home safe from the significant injuries, but I also don’t want to helicopter-parent them from ever injuring themselves. 

(But I also have an irrational fear of swimming pools now too as a direct result of my experience as an ER nurse, so I suppose being a nurse and mom has also made me a bit paranoid as well).  

The way I see it is that kids grow and learn so much through play. If they are playing right, they are going to get hurt once in a while.  Minor injuries are a part of childhood, and having them can help kids grow and develop resilience to other things that happen to them out in the world.  

Additional recommended reading:  9 Tips For Working As A Nurse While Pregnant

Being a nurse is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to have healthy children.  

I have had the privilege of working with pediatrics as an emergency medicine nurse.  As a result, I have watched a lot of parents deal with their children’s chronic illnesses, life-threatening injuries, and so many other medical-related issues that can keep kids in the hospital for weeks, months, or even years.

It makes it hard for me to complain about how busy my life is as a working mother.  Because in reality, when you have healthy children, you have everything that you need. 

As a working mom and nurse, I see a lot of the bad things that can happen, and it makes me more grateful for the things I have.  It is all a challenging balance.  But it is also an honor and a privilege – and it has prepared me for motherhood in a way that nothing else really could.

Addiontial recommended reading:

3 Helpful Tips For Parents Working The Night Shift

3 Helpful Tips For Parents Working The Night Shift

*This post may contain affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here.  

Written by Adela Ellis, RN, BSN

Working the night shift is never easy.   Add a kid or two into the mix and it becomes even that much more difficult.

Life can be challenging for working parents, even in the best of circumstances and working night shifts is no exception.  Raising kids when you are sleep deprived is challenging at best, and it’s often challenging to find someone who can take care of your children while you’re on the clock.

There are perks, though. For example, nurses are usually paid more per hour when they work nights instead of days, and working nights means that you’ll have more time to spend with your family during the day.  There is even some evidence that working the night shift can benefit the parent-child relationship.

Plus, the lines at the grocery store tend to be really short first thing in the morning when night shift workers are heading home. 

If you are a parent and you are struggling with how to make working the night shift work, you’ve come to the right place.  Keep scrolling to discover three tips for parents working the night shift.

Night Shift Nurse Tip #1:  Prioritize Self-Care

Woman Running

Night shift nurse tip #1: prioritize self-care

As a parent, you probably put your kids’ needs ahead of your own pretty much all the time. But it’s important to remember that you need to take care of yourself too.  Self-care is important for everyone, and it is even more important for nurses who work the night shift.

Working the night shift can take a serious toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

As humans, we are naturally programmed to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Working the night shift means fighting against one of your body’s most basic instincts, and it’s not easy.

To minimize the negative effects of working nights, you need to make self-care a priority.  Make sure you get plenty of sleep each day, maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and pamper yourself once in a while.

Set boundaries with family members (including your children) to ensure that you are able to get the rest you need. Don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to afternoon playdates if you need to sleep. If you want to be the best version of yourself, both at home and at work, you need to make taking care of yourself a top priority.

Even choosing the right clothing to wear to work can be a part of your self-care. Invest in quality scrubs that you will feel great wearing. Keep in mind that you’re likely to get chilly during the night and make sure you have a few nice scrub jackets in your closet. Invest in high-quality nursing shoes that won’t leave you feeling fatigued just a few hours into your shift. When you feel your best in cute nurse scrubs and comfy footwear, it’s a lot easier to make it through your shift with a smile on your face.

Additional recommended reading:  

Night Shift Nurse Tip #2:  Find an Amazing Babysitter

babysitter taking care of kids for night shift working mom

Tip #2 for working the night shift with a family: find an amazing babysitter

If you and your partner work opposite shifts, having someone to watch the kids while you are at work might not be a problem. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that you won’t need someone to watch them during the day too. You may get home first thing in the morning and not need to return to work until later that night, but you need that time to get some rest. 

Plenty of parents think that they can work at night and take naps throughout the day when the kids are asleep, but that very rarely works out. You might not need a sitter if your kids are in school during the day, but, if you have little ones at home, a good sitter is a must.

Find someone that you can depend on to watch your kids on a consistent schedule. You need between seven and nine hours of sleep each day (roughly), so make sure you choose a sitter who is available for enough hours each day to enable you to get some much-needed sleep. Consider sending your kids to daycare or choosing a sitter who can watch them in their home. This will help minimize the noise in your home and allow you to rest without worrying about why your little one is crying or being woken up by random noises throughout the day.

Night Shift Nurse Tip #3:  Learn to Embrace the Night Shift

Nurse working the night shift and smiling

Working night shift with a family tip #3: embrace the night shift

For most parents, one of the hardest parts of working the night shift is knowing that you’ll have to miss out on things like family get-togethers and school events. A big part of your kids’ lives will happen when you are asleep, and that can be a really tough thing to accept. If you want to successfully navigate working the night shift as a parent, though, you are going to have to learn how to embrace it.

Instead of thinking about the negatives, consider the positives. You’ll make more money and be able to pay off debt faster or surprise your kids with special treats. You’ll get to provide better care for your patients and build stronger relationships with your coworkers.

In addition, you won’t have to deal with things like grocery shopping during the hours when most of the world is awake. Your nonstandard schedule may even enable you to spend more time with your kids.

The Bottom Line For Parents Working The Night Shift

As a parent, you want what’s best for your kids. Often, that means doing things that you don’t really want to do––like working the night shift––in order to provide a better life for them. Working nights isn’t always easy, but there are things that you can do to face the challenges head-on and be a great employee and parent. Use the tips listed above to make life as a night-shift working parent happier and healthier for you.

Additional recommended reading: 

About the author:   Adela Ellis is a full-time nurse and part-time ambassador for Infinity Scrubs. Adela attended the University of Arizona and has been a travel nurse for the last 6 years. She enjoys working with different doctors, nurses, and patients from all over the country and blogging about her experiences. In her free time, she loves true-crime podcasts and cooking for friends and family. 

My 6 Biggest Nursing Career Fears As An Experienced RN

My 6 Biggest Nursing Career Fears As An Experienced RN

I recently wrote an article about my #1 biggest nursing career fear.

It was a hard post to write.  It brought up a lot of emotions for me, but also helped clarify new career goals that I needed to set for myself.

At first glance, it may seem to some that I did that to torture myself.  But there was a method to my madness.

I recently began a comprehensive writing and website development course that will take me at least 12 months to complete.  And one of my first assignments was to write about a significant fear that I have that pertains to my current writing niche.

As a nurse mom blogger who writes about finding ways to help nurses take better care of themselves, I put a lot of thought into this.  And I have concluded that one of the ways I want to take better care of myself is to NOT work as a floor nurse for my entire career.

Unfortunately, the wear-and-tear is starting to break me down.  I am afraid that what was once a cerebral challenge is beginning to turn into full-fledged irreparable nurse burnout.

Never let feat decide your fu

Never let your fear decide your future:  my 2021 nursing career fear mantra

As a nurse blogger who frequently blogs specifically about the topic of nurse burnout, I have worked very hard to find solutions for my exhaustion.

My #1 reason for starting a website was to create an outlet for my own overwhelm and fatigue as a nurse and new mom.

Over the last two years, I have spent nearly every minute of my free time researching and exploring possible solutions for these struggles.  Then I write it all out clearly as I can with the hope that I can help myself and (hopefully) other nurse moms in my position.

And voila, it works!  For a while, anyway.

But, sadly, I eventually find myself feeling burned out again.

So, in the spirit of continuing the blogging assignment I mentioned earlier, I am going to dive in and open up about all of my fears about my nursing career.

It saddens me to think that I may not be a direct patient care nurse for much longer.  The healthcare system needs great nurses. But I will always be a nurse, and as I like to say, a nursing practice can take many forms.

My biggest fears as a bedside nurse:

#1.  I fear physical injuries from years of nursing.

nurse neck injury

Nursing career fear #1:  physical injuries on the job

There is alarming evidence now that even proper lifting techniques expose nurses’ spines to dangerous forces.

Also, chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced-based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%.

Many non-nursing professionals may be alarmed to hear that after only seven years as a bedside nurse, I am already feeling the wear-and-tear of being on my feet all day.  I already have chronic back pain.  My legs and feet ache for days after a 12-hour shift.

I do a lot of yoga as a preventative measure, and it helps tremendously.  But as soon as I have another busy shift with a heavy patient load, the pain returns.  Especially when I work with total-care patients.

#2.  I fear a life of burnout and constant exhaustion.

Nurse tired sitting in hospital hallway

Nursing career fear #2:  years of chronic exhaustion

I have written many times about my fatigue as a nurse and have even come up with several solutions to beat my nurse burnout (at least temporarily).  But if I’m being honest, the only way I even recover from burnout is just not to work at all.  It is incredible how much better l feel after stepping away from bedside nursing for a week.

Admittedly, I have created a few of my own unhealthy habits to cope with my nursing career.  This is why one of my goals this year is to start taking simple steps to help keep my stress in check so that I don’t end up becoming a patient myself.

I realize now more than ever that, to care for others, I must take care of myself first.   And the only proven way I have been able to do that thus far is to step away from the bedside and practice nursing in a different realm.

#3.  I fear verbal abuse and violence.

Stop violence against nurses

Nursing career fear #3: violence against nurses in the workplace

Abuse against nurses is prevalent.  Nurses are expected to put up with levels of abuse that would NEVER be acceptable in any other professional setting.  I have been cussed at more times than I can count, in just about every colorful way you could imagine, for just doing my job.  And guess what?  Not one single abusive patient or family member as EVER been asked to leave the hospital.  Sadly, it appears that nurse abuse is acceptable and that nurses must deal with it as a part of the job.

Here is a recent example:  I had a patient verbally assault me in the vilest way possible when I brought them their scheduled life-saving anti-rejection medicines.  I explained that I was there to help them, and calmly asked the patient several times to stop using vulgar language at me.  Finally, I told them I would find them a different nurse and left the room.

Tearfully, I told my charge nurse, who supported me and assigned the patient a different RN.  I found out later that the patient was so offended that I refused to be their nurse, that they filed a complaint against me.  I also found out later that there were several other nurses in the days prior who had been putting up with the same verbal abuse.

Even worse, violence against nurses is prevalent (especially emergency room nurses), and it usually isn’t even routinely tracked.  I have been lucky not to find myself the victim of direct physical violence as a nurse as of yet.  Many nurses have not been so not fortunate.

#4.  I fear not having more earning potential.

To do list; make more money

Nursing career fear #4: not reaching a higher earning potential

Working for an hourly wage kind of sucks.  I am very driven, and I have a great work ethic.  But no matter how hard I work as a nurse, I’m just not going to make any higher (or lower) than my hourly wage.  I could work more hours, but I am already experiencing a lot of nurse burnout, and I have a family to take care of as well.

I often think about how nice it would be to get paid more for working harder.  And I want the opportunity to earn a better living.  Especially because we live in one of the most expensive cities in the US, and it’s only getting more expensive.

#5.  I fear to have a terminal position with no growth opportunity.

nursing career growth

Nursing career fear #5: not growing professionally in my career

There are opportunities for nurses who want to move into administrative roles or become nurse practitioners if you are willing to go back to graduate school for a master’s degree or Ph.D. in nursing. (When you work in the UC system in California, you MUST have a Masters Degree In Nursing to move into administration.  No exceptions).

However, my bachelor’s degree in nursing was already my second college degree as I am a second career nurse  (I have a prior BA in journalism).  Not only was going to nursing school in my early 30’s the single hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it was also extraordinarily expensive.  I know a few nurses graduating with over $100,000 in nursing school loan debt (I don’t have it in me to tell them they will likely never pay it off on a nurse’s salary- at least not in California).

In addition, I have a family now with two toddlers who need me – and I’m already a working mom.  So, I could spend a ton of money going back to school, spend almost no time with my family, have a whole bunch of brand new student loan debt, and have a terrible quality of life for the next 3+ years.

And quite honestly, the idea of being a hospital administrator doesn’t even sound very appealing to me.  Not to mention, many nurse practitioners are making less then bedside nurses.  Thus, I have a hard time seeing the benefit in more school at the moment.

#6.  I fear not putting my own needs first.

Make your dreams bigger then your fears

Nursing career fear #6:  putting my own needs last

In my first career, I was a medical device salesperson because I wanted the opportunity to make a significant amount of money.  A decade later, I became a nurse because I genuinely wanted to help people and save lives.  I wanted to do something that was so much bigger than myself.

I was proud to become a nurse, and I still am.  However, this profession revolves around constantly putting other peoples’ needs first.  And it must, because our patients’ lives often depend on it.

But I have a family to care for too. And as a mom of young children, I often feel that I am in constant “survival mode.” This leaves very little time for self-care.

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

Thinking about the things I fear most is probably my least favorite thing to do.  In reality, I am a non-confrontational person and it feels unnatural for me to do a deep-dive into the things I am most afraid of.  Especially listing them one-by-one and publishing them on my website!

But, if I can’t be honest with myself about what I feel in my gut when it comes to my nursing career, then how am I supposed to grow and create a better future for myself and my family?

As a busy working mom, I hardly have time to think about myself as it is.  It would be a lot easier to pretend my fears didn’t exist and stay super busy until my kids turn 18 and go off to college.  But making big life changes is hard, even when they are the best thing for you.

Plus, I would be well into my 50’s by then!

And I don’t have time to waste on being afraid!

Do you have any fears as a bedside nurse?  Please leave a comment below!

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