Friday, November 16, 2007

Healthcare professionals and stress

I had to dig deep to find these stories – not much happened yesterday.

On Wednesday, I posted a link to an article about healthcare workers and stress. Anyone who has ever worked with the public in any capacity, be it a server in a restaurant, a bus driver, or receptionist, to name a few, can attest that it can be very stressful at times. While many members of the public are polite and understanding, many are not. Separately, being responsible for someone’s health is stressful. You don’t want to make mistakes, you’re dealing with people’s dreams and lives, with pain and discomfort. That’s pretty stressful too. So, combine working with the public with working in health care and you’ve got a heck of stressful situation sometimes.

There is never an excuse for a rude or nasty nurse or healthcare professional. Ever. The thing is, sometimes certain attitudes can be mistaken for rudeness and this can set off a chain of events. Picture this scenario: a nurse has a patient who is deteriorating rapidly and needs emergency interventions. She has another patient who is close to discharge, not well, but not acute any more. The healthier patient wants the nurse to do something, like perhaps get a pain medication, just as the sicker patient is crashing. The nurse has to address the sicker patient and deals with the emergency, delaying the pain medication for the other patient, or perhaps forgetting altogether. The scenarios that can follow are numerous. The original patient may end up perceiving the nurse as rude or uncaring, when this may be completely untrue – but it is the patient’s perception.

The stress doesn’t come from just the patient care though. Often, nurses (and other healthcare professionals) are pressed to make do in situations that really shouldn’t happen. This could mean short staffing, work overload, forced over time, and so on.

Then, there is the physical stress of the job. For example, someone has to be awake and moving at 2 in the morning. This person has to be able to make snap decisions and move quickly, regardless of if he or she has been able to get a decent sleep during the day. Patient care is heavy and very physical; causing many nurses to experience back pain.

All this paints a bleak picture, doesn’t it? I don’t mean to. Health care is very rewarding; there are few other things you can do in life that can affect someone as deeply as you can do if you work in this environment. But the stress is causing many people to quit the profession or to shut down while working – doing on the basic minimum and not striving to reach their best.

News for Today:

FDA adds heart attack warning to diabetes drug Avandia
New Drug Fights Medication-Linked Bone Loss
Weight Loss Drug Rimonabant Linked To Severe Depression Or Anxiety Risk


Terrie Farley Moran said...

In the one major hospital stay of my life which was for a couple of weeks last spring, I found that everyone one treated me civilly and kindly EXCEPT for one of the partners of my Internist. He would do morning rounds and make all sorts of pronouncements and fight with me, even though he had no idea who I was or what I thought. Another partner showed up twice, each time with coffee cup in hand and held the cup over my body while examining me. If it had spilled . . .

I'm glad this post reminded me as I am seeing the Internist Monday and can whine to him about this.


Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

aw Terrie, I'm sorry you had to come across someone like that. There's one in every bunch, isn't there?