Stress and fatigue at any job are counterproductive; these can have devastating consequences in professions as sensitive as the healthcare sector. Nurses are of the many healthcare professionals who have to be extra cautious in their tasks and avoid errors; even minor mistakes can have life-threatening consequences for some patients.
Unfortunately, many nurses are overworked and experience frequent burnout. One of the contributing factors is the fact that many nurse practitioners are studying and working part-time simultaneously. Given the fact that the healthcare sector is ever-evolving, this is inevitable.
If continued education and life-long learning are part and parcel of any healthcare sector job, and as demanding as nursing can be, there must be some way to maintain a healthy work-life balance while advancing in one’s career. You are in the right place if you are struggling with a similar problem! The following are some very useful tips you can benefit from.
Learn effective time management
With so many tasks to juggle and keep track of, time management is inevitably a valuable asset that should not be ignored. Indeed proper time management is also one of the difficult skills to master.
Nurses have multiple patients, documents to go through, entries to make, and more. Inexperienced and new nurses, in particular, have great difficulty juggling these tasks together.
If you are completing some degree course alongside your part-time job, one way to make things easier for yourself is to opt for an online rather than an on-campus one. Many universities today, especially following the pandemic, allow for online courses; those like the UTA online nursing program are accredited courses that give you an experience similar to an on-campus program.
To master effective time management, try to reach a little earlier than the time for your shift, ideally 15 minutes, so that you get a head start on things and can organize your day ahead of time. You can also review the patient reports, submit important documents, and design your schedule during this time.
Define your life’s purpose
Nursing is a calling for many; for the true altruist at heart, any social work profession, including healthcare workers, is indeed a calling. However, sometimes the workload gets so overwhelming that it is easy to lose sight of this ultimate goal, and it becomes more of a burden than a personally satisfying task.
By defining and clearly outlining your life’s goal, you can prioritize what is important and go for a nursing job that meets these goals. Some jobs are more flexible than others, and some schedules are easier.
If, for instance, you know that your family and your home are your priority, you can select a job that gives you time with your family; an outpatient clinic job is more family-friendly and demands fewer night shifts. Similarly, if helping underserved communities around the globe is your life’s purpose, travel nursing, international aid, and urban healthcare are sometimes you should consider. By making your life’s passion your profession, you can achieve a good work-life balance.
Take out time for restorative breaks
Self-care is a great investment in the long run; you can only perform to the best of your ability when well-rested and not fatigued. Long-term stress, demanding jobs, and constant exposure to human suffering can set the stage for nursing burnout. Burnout is a condition of mental and physical exhaustion that results from prolonged exposure to work-related stressors.
For nurses, prolonged stress usually results from the high number of patients, long shifts, and stressful specialties (ICU nurses, for instance). Burnout at work can make nurses irritable, increase checked-out behavior, and make them less effective in treating patients. Burnout can make you more prone to making mistakes, and even small errors in nursing can have terrible consequences.
You can minimize the chances of burnout by scheduling restorative breaks. Give yourself short timeouts, like a 30-second pause before you head from one patient to the next or a 30-second deep breathing exercise in the middle of your shift.
Formal, structured breaks are also a must. Spend this free time relaxing, going outdoors, and doing something you enjoy. You can take this time to call someone, catch up with a friend, or practice mindfulness meditation.
Stay physically active
Often nurses feel weighed down by an emotional and physical burden that gives way to anxiety and depression. More often than not, nurses find practically no time at all for some physical activity or hobby. Research shows that physical fitness is the best way to deal with such emotional turmoil and promote better mental health.
The Mayo Clinic reports that exercise counters anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins (hormones that relieve pain and stress), diverting thoughts, and enabling positive coping. Endorphins improve overall well-being by inducing pleasurable feelings that typically result from exercise, massage, and eating. The CDC advises that ideally, an adult should have at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate activity a week.
Schedule your day to include sufficient work and family time
Thorough planning is the key to effective time management. The first step to such planning is to outline and manage work life. Sometimes you would have to set limits on your work time, especially following the pandemic; today, it is difficult to separate work from home life because of the digital platform.
At work, another effective strategy is to ensure you get some time during the day to schedule, maintain records, and evaluate your productivity.
Consider remote work
Today there are great career prospects in remote healthcare, and many nurses work remotely. It became increasingly popular following the Covid-19 pandemic, where lockdowns and social distancing forced many healthcare workers to seek remote employment opportunities.
Sometimes working remotely is the perfect solution when you struggle with maintaining a work-life balance. Remote work is more flexible, reduces travel time and costs, and makes getting some personal time and regular breaks easier. You can find numerous remote nursing jobs by browsing different websites.
Nursing is one of the few professions that are intense and demanding in terms of time investment. Long shifts, night shifts, and few breaks are all part and parcel of nursing. Amidst this, many nurses struggle to maintain a good work-life balance while advancing their careers. Some ways to achieve this are to improve time management skills, set a life goal, take restorative breaks, stay active, schedule the day, and consider remote work. In the long run, these small changes will yield significant positive impacts.