The Stress of Hospital Employment

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The Stress of Hospital Employment

Nurses are particularly prone to stress on the job

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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What is occupational stress? Here is a good definition: “the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the worker.” That could describe several jobs, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, healthcare workers, especially nurses, are particularly prone.

Understaffing, needle sticks, career dilemmas — not to mention seriously ill or dying patients — all contribute to distress in nursing staffs. Stress levels are so high they constitute a hazard and lead to higher levels of depression and anxiety, nevermind high rates of burnout, staff turnover and absenteeism. Stress can also cause higher error rates in diagnosis and treatment, as well as dissatisfied families and patients.

A new pamphlet issued by the Centers for Disease Control spells it all out. Anything printed on the CDC is in the public domain, so it might pay to download several copies for employees to study the findings and suggestions of the agency.

Two practices that the CDC suggests to reduce job stress are organizational interventions that change the workplace and stress management interventions that teach coping skills. The pamphlet wisely points out that while employee interventions will work for a time, without organizational change and support, the underlying causes will not disappear and individual skills may become ineffective.

It’s official, then! An ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure. Stay healthy.

Elizabeth Hanink RN, BSN, PHN, is a freelance writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience.

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