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Nurse Injuries Worst for New Grads
Overwork is more to blame than inexperience
We all know that direct patient care and working the night shift or lots of overtime can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming, but they can also be downright dangerous. A new study, published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies in July, finds a strong correlation between those factors and the risk of injury, particularly among newly licensed nurses.
Overtime and Night Shift Nursing
The study was conducted by the RN Work Project and is based on almost 10 years’ worth of data, an ongoing longitudinal nursing study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (See www.rnworkproject.org.) The results indicate that despite improved technology and various state and national policy initiatives aimed at improving safety, nurses who work the night shift or clock eight or more hours of overtime each week still suffer more strains, sprains and needle-stick injuries than do nurses with less-demanding schedules.
New Nurses Most Vulnerable
The study also found that newly licensed nurses are at higher risk for injury than are their more experienced colleagues. Needle-stick injuries, for example, occur most often in nurses under 30 with higher-than-average workloads and lower-than-average autonomy. While inexperience may play a role in new nurses’ greater risk of injury, much of that risk may be attributable to taxing schedules.
“The majority of newly licensed nurses working in the United States work 12-hour shifts and work overtime each week,” says lead author Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, RN, Ph.D.
What Can Be Done?
Coauthor Christine Kovner, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, says the study emphasizes the importance of finding ways to reduce stress for new nurses. “Interventions that reduce those stressors not only increase nurses’ safety, but also improve quality of care,” she says. “Our study is part of a growing body of evidence that suggests newly licensed nurses should not work excessive overtime and should have limited night-shift work.”
This article is from workingnurse.com.