Nurses are healthcare workers who have incredibly stressful — and often thankless — jobs. And, right now, they need support more than ever before. Whether there is a nurse in your family or you are looking for ways to show your support and appreciation for healthcare workers as a whole, there are several things you can do. Here are a few suggestions.
Make a Donation
Even as more and more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, healthcare professionals will still be feeling the effects of the virus for a long time. While personal protective equipment has become more readily available, donating essential supplies is an excellent way to show your support for healthcare workers in your community.
Whether you stock up the healthcare worker in your life with antimicrobial laundry detergent, drop off some N95 masks at a local hospital, or even make a financial donation to a healthcare organization, your contribution will be greatly appreciated. You could even sponsor a lunch for the employees at your doctor’s office. If you aren’t sure what to donate, contact a facility or organization in your area to find out what they need or want.
Financially unable to donate cash or supplies? Consider donating blood instead. The Red Cross has an ongoing need for blood and platelets. If you are eligible to donate, your donation could save lives and help healthcare workers care for their patients.
Give a Thoughtful Gift
Healthcare providers don’t expect to be rewarded for their jobs, but thoughtful gifts are always appreciated. Consider buying some high-quality mens’ print scrub tops and giving them to a nurse or doctor you know. Or offer to cover the cost of a pair of new nursing shoes. This type of gift is thoughtful and practical and would be appreciated by anyone who works in the healthcare industry.
If you would rather give a gift that is not work-related, gift cards for local restaurants and entertainment venues are always appreciated. A spa day or an appointment with a massage therapist would make a great gift, too.
Remember that a great gift does not have to cost a lot of money. If you have kids, help them make cute gifts to pass out to local healthcare workers. Even a tiny token of your appreciation will mean a lot.
Help Them at Home
If you personally know a nurse or another healthcare professional, offer to help them out at home. You could lend a hand with childcare while at work, prepare a healthy meal, or offer to mow their lawn or tidy up their house. Even picking up their grocery order or running simple errands would be greatly appreciated.
Healthcare workers are exhausted. By offering to help them out at home, you give them the gift of having one less thing to worry about. When it comes to lending a hand, no gesture is too small.
Don’t Clear the Shelves in Stores
Hoarding is not as problematic now as it was in the early days of the pandemic, but there are still those who panic buy much more than they need. And, in doing so, they make it difficult for people like nurses to find supplies. Folks who work long hours don’t have time to run from store to store trying to find toilet paper or other essentials. Make their life easier by not clearing the shelves when you go shopping.
Also, this should go without saying but do not “stock up” on supplies by taking them from hospitals and doctors’ offices. Even if it seems like they have an abundance of face masks, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and gloves, etc., these supplies are not there for you to take and use at home. Medical facilities do not have unlimited supplies of personal protective equipment and other essentials. By taking what they have for your own use, you take it away from the healthcare workers who desperately need it and drive up healthcare costs.
Say “Thank You”
Showing your gratitude and support does not have to be complicated or cost a single cent. Remembering to say “thank you” when interacting with nurses, doctors, therapists, and other healthcare professionals is a simple gesture that could mean the world to someone with a rough day.
Working in healthcare can be a thankless job. And, during stressful times, feeling unappreciated is even more difficult. Anytime you interact with or see a healthcare worker, offer up a smile and a thank you. You might make someone’s entire week better.
Remember That They Are Human
Healthcare workers have been the superheroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to remember, though, that they are human at the end of the day. They face many of the same challenges as you are, and they have the added stress of having incredibly demanding jobs.
Recognize that nurses and other healthcare workers — especially those working on the frontlines — face unimaginable hardships. Let them know how much you appreciate them and cut them some slack if they don’t seem quite as cheerful as usual. They have had to show superhuman strength over the last several months, but don’t let that make you forget that they are human.
It turns out that nurses may not be getting the same respect and care that they give to their patients and employers. As a result, many nurses are looking for alternative ways to practice nursing or are even leaving the nursing professional altogether.
I became a nurse as a second career. Nursing called to me because I genuinely wanted to help people, and I thought that a nurse’s schedule would work better for me as a mom. Now, seven years into my nursing career, my passion for nursing is still high.
Yet I, like many other nurses, struggle with burnout. I have even started looking outside of patient care for alternative ways that I can practicing nursing to deal with my struggle.
(This post may contain affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.)
Reasons Why Nurses Quit
#1. Not having control over work schedules
Hospital nurses are expected to work all hours of the day and night, holidays, and weekends. And on top of that, many nurses don’t even have control of their schedules (unless they work per diem – which has been a game-changer for me). I can’t tell you how many times I have missed Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s parties, Easter Sunday, Fourth of July weekend, and so many other special events with my family.
Now that I have my own kids, missing these events is so much harder for me, especially if I have to work on one of their birthdays. This past Christmas, I was lucky enough to NOT work on Christmas Day, but I worked the entire two weekends before, the two days before Christmas, and the day after Christmas. I missed several Christmas parties, and I was so tired on Christmas day that I could barely keep my eyes open.
Thankfully I am not working graveyard shifts anymore, but if I did I would have quit being a nurse a long time ago. Working night shifts literally made me feel like I was going to explode. I felt sick all the time, I was in a constant fog, and I even started to get a little depressed.
Here is an idea that can help: Work per diem or switch to another nursing position that requires a more regular 9 to 5 work schedule such as occupational health or the Cath lab.
#2. Bullying in the workplace
You have probably heard the phrase “nurses eat their young.” That is just a clever way of saying that there are many experienced and burned out older nurses bullying less experienced nurses. It’s also a primary culprit as to why nurses quit working inpatient care.
I remember one of my own experiences with bullying very clearly. When I was a new nurse grad, a nurse I gave report to at shift change would question everything I had done for my patients that day, and drill me about why I didn’t do things differently. Her attitude was awful, and I could tell she hated her job and being on the unit. She had been there for many years, and she treated several other new nurses the same way.
There were days where my shift had gone great – until I had to deal with her at the very end. Then I left the hospital feeling defeated and inadequate just because of some unhappy, grumpy nurse. I did my best to hold my ground and keep my reports as simple as possible.
Eventually, (and thankfully) she quit and we never had to deal with her again. Things got better for me, but unfortunately, there are still nurses “eating their young” who are lurking within the hospital.
Here is an idea that may help: I took a course called “Crucial Conversations” during my second year as a nurse, and it was so helpful for me. It taught me how to deal with difficult situations with other co-workers. Sometimes addressing a bully head-on or finding a way to avoid them entirely is the best way to handle the situation.
#3. Abusive patients or family members
By and large, most patients and family members in the hospital treat the medical staff respectfully. However, that is not always the case.
In my seven years career as a nurse, I have been kicked, swung at (thankfully never hit head-on!), had a full urinal thrown at me, been cussed out, and told I should “kill myself.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are patients who, despite having full capability to execute all activities of daily living by themselves, take advantage of nurses and other medical staff by asking that everything is done for them. It’s as if we have nothing to do all day except be a personal butler. At least it can feel that way sometimes. I’d rather not be a character from Downton Abbey, though!
Often when people are in the hospital, it is because they are sick and need to be there. Nurses are happy to bend over backward to give the best patient care we can for those patients. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of the caregivers, and over time, it leads to decreased morale and, ultimately, burnout. This is another big reason why nurses quit the profession.
Here is an idea that can help: Nurse abuse is never okay and can be traumatizing for nurses. Communicate with management any time a patient or family member is abusive. Ask for help. Call security if you feel threatened. Ask for another assignment or take turns with other nurses giving care to extremely difficult patients. Talk to staff, family, and friends to help talk out your experience. All of these things can help make dealing with difficult patients and their families a little easier.
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If you are considering leaving the nursing profession altogether, here are a few ideas to help rekindle your nursing career:
Many nurses struggle with finding a work-life balance. With increasingly demanding 12-hour shifts, its tough to stay healthyand sane when you are continually going a mile a minute. In time you may become overwhelmed and unsatisfied with your nursing career and your personal life.
Nurse burnout is real. The journey towards a satisfying work-life balance as a nurse is within your control and will only be attainable if you make it a priority.
Consider doing a little soul-searching. Take a moment to sit quietly with yourself and pinpoint precisely what you need to simplify your life. Here are a few things to consider on your journey to creating a better work-life balance as a nurse:
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1. What are your priorities?
Take inventory of both your nursing lifeand personal life. Is it possible you may be juggling too many balls in the air? What do you envision your life to be like in 5 years?
Sit down and write a 1, 3, and 5-year plan. Make specific goals. You simply cannot create a satisfying work-life balance without fine-tuning your personal and work goals. Be brutally honest. Are you making major life decisions based on what you want to do or what you feel like you should do?
Many people (ahem, nurses!) are inherent caregivers who often give more to others before themselves. Now is an excellent time to think about how you will care for yourself first. Your happiness and success is your responsibility. Start by prioritizing what is most important to you!
2. Manage your stress
You have to manage your stress to achieve a work/life balance. This is a non-negotiable!
Here are two helpful ways to manage stress: #1) get moving with some type of physical activity (may I suggest yoga?) or #2) meditate (or just take a little time to chill out by yourself).
The benefits of exercise and mediation on physical and mental health are well documented in literature. For example, The Mayo Clinic has stated that “yoga may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate,” among many other benefits (my yoga practice has been a lifesaver for me!).
Also, a study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a significant reduction in perceived mental pressure. Just imagine how much better YOU could feel as a nurse who commits to a regular yoga practice.
Note: It doesn’t have to be yoga (although yoga has remarkably changed my life for the better over the past ten years). Exercise can come in any form you want it to: running, hiking, swimming, pole jumping, dancing in your living room. The best kind of exercise is the kind that you actually do!
3. Create more flexibility
In addition to the (literal) flexibility I get from yoga, I have also found flexibility within my workplace and at home.
12-hour shift schedules are already rigid enough. To find a work-life balance that works for you, consider other alternative scheduling options available in your workplace.
As a per diem nurse, I am employed “by the day.” Hospitals need the flexibility of per diem nurses so they can manage daily staffing needs in the hospital. There are many pros and cons to being a per diem nurse, and it is the only way I can effectively be a working mom at this time. Here is another way to create flexibility in your life: Try squeezing your workouts early in the morning before your family is awake. Sure, you will be tired, but you will also feel incredible for the rest of the day! (I have been practicing hot yoga at 5:30 AM twice a week before my tribe wakes up, and it is helping me function so much better).
If you are a nurse suffering from burnout and looking for alternative career paths, you are in luck. Finding a new way to practice nursing may help you find the work-life balance you have been looking for.
Here are a few ideas, just to get your brain thinking outside the box!:
There are so many different types of nurses in various specialties that work within the hospital setting. So how do you figure out which one is right for you?
When I was initially toying with the idea of going back to college to become a nurse, I had no idea how many types of nursing specialties there were. I thought there was just a single “type” of nurse who did pretty much everything.
I was so wrong. That just shows how little I knew about the nursing world back then! I think many potential nurses who are contemplating getting a BSN may think the same thing as I once did.
The good news about starting in nursing school is that you don’t have to decide on what type of nursing specialty you want to go into right away. At least not until you get closer to the end of nursing school and start interviewing for jobs. Also, you can even change your nursing specialty during your career if you want (I did it and reignited my passion for nursing). So, if you find you don’t enjoy one specialty after a while, you can look into others that might better suit you.
This particular post explores nursing career specialties within the hospital. If you don’t want to work in the hospital, that’s OK. There are a ton of opportunities to explore as a new grad nurse outside of the hospital setting too! However, if the hospital setting is for you (as it was for me), then this is a quick and dirty explanation of the different types of nurses and nursing specialties that may be available to you!
There are dozens of different nursing specialties and levels of care in the hospital to choose from. When deciding on a specialty, it may help to start with the level of care that works best with your personality and then work from there. While some nursing students think the intensity of working in an emergency room might be exhilarating, others may prefer to start by learning on a medical-surgical unit instead.
The next step may be to consider which patient age groups you would most enjoy working with. For example, a nursing school friend of mine knew from the moment she applied to nursing school that she had to be a pediatric nurse. Yet another student friend was passionate about working in the geriatric community. Some nurses find that they love working with newborn babies or children, while others find that they enjoy the intensity of managing patients at the ICU level of care.
Lastly, as you start studying more about the different body systems and doing clinical hours, you can decide which specialties that you are most interested in. Being a student nurse is a great time to learn all about the different types of nurses in the hospital you might want to work in!
If you are interested in learning more about the types of nurses that in the higest demand, check out this video:
Types of nurses, based on credentials:
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
LPNs perform a number of duties under the supervision of an RN. They have a more limited scope of practice than an RN, however, they can check vital signs, give oral medication and give injections. LPNs are trained through a state-approved educational program, which takes 12 to 24 months to achieve.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered nurses (RNs) are nurses with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. It takes two years to complete an associate’s degree in nursing and at least 4 years to complete a BSN.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an experienced nurse who has also completed a master’s degree in nursing. CNS’s are trained in diagnosing and treating illnesses within a specific realm of expertise.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
NPs work under the supervision of a medical doctor, however, they have the autonomy to diagnose diseases, prescribe medications, and initiate patient treatment plans. Educational requirements include a master’s or doctoral degree.
Levels of care in the hospital setting
Medical-Surgical Care, otherwise known as Med/Surg, is the largest nursing specialty in the United States. Med/Surg nurses care for adult patients who are acutely ill with a wide variety of medical issues or are recovering from surgery. Nurses on these units often care for 4-5 patients (or more) depending on acuity.
Telemetry Unit patients are often more acutely ill and need constant monitoring. Patients here are monitored with telemetry monitors that allow nurses to review a patient’s vital signs constantly so they can give more detailed care. Often, Med/Surg and Telemetry patients are referred to interchangeably as many Telemetry Units have both types of patients.
Intensive Care Units
An Intensive Care Unit, otherwise known as an ICU or Critical Care Unit is a unit that provides a higher level of intensive patient care. Patients in the ICU often have severe and life-threatening injuries that require constant, close monitoring. Nurses in the ICU usually only care for 1 or 2 patients at a time due to the high acuity of patient care.
ER nurses treat patients in emergent situations who are involved in a trauma or other life-threatening injuries. These nurses deal with patients from all age groups involving many different levels of patient care. You may have patients with illnesses and wounds, ranging from dog bites or minor burns to more serious conditions such as strokes or other trauma victims.
Patient age groups
Hospital units are also broken into different age groups to offer more specialized care. This is also something to consider when deciding on a specialty you want to work in. Some of the age groups include:
Here is a general list of hospital specialty units that many nurses work in:
What nursing jobs are you most interested in?
As you can see from the above information, there are so many different types of nurses and nursing specialties. You may want to pick a few that are most interesting to you and narrow your search in from there. Once you get your legs wet in the profession for a few years, you may even want to look into other alternative and unique careers in nursing.
Now that you have a better understanding of the different career options out there for nurses, you may want to brush up on your interviewing skills. Let us help you achieve that with this article “How To Land Your First Nursing Job In Six Steps.”
Are you thinking about becoming a nurse and wondering what nursing specialties might be best for you? Or do you have any other questions about the different types of nurses in the hospital setting? Please leave a comment or question below!