Nursing is a profession that comes with excessive responsibility and long work hours. Due to the nature of the profession, nurses often get burnt out either because the stress eventually catches up to them or they don’t take care for themselves.
Besides the physical fatigue and psychological stress of the job, nurses can also develop different health complications due to the demanding nature of their profession. They are constantly exposed to hazardous chemicals, germs, and are often sleep deprived. All of these factors, including some others, can lead them to developing health issues.
In this article, we will discuss some common health complications nurses may develop as a result of their job.
It is common for nurses to be sleep deprived due to the nature of their job. They have to work on consecutive double shifts if the hospital is understaffed. Moreover, since their jobs are highly stressful, many nurses develop sleep disorders, like insomnia.
The effects of such complications prevent them from sleeping even when they are off-duty. As a result, they feel weary and fatigued during their shifts, and the performance suffers due to a lack of focus.
Many healthcare facilities have mandatory overtimes for nurses, even when their regular working hours are constantly adjusting to cater to demand. They don’t follow the standard 9-5 work schedules, like other professionals do. Working overtime frequently make the nurses develop a number of physical and psychological problems. Their performance will also take a hit due to their exhaustion.
While long shifts may be common in the nursing field, some nurses do follow a standard work routine. For instance, most registered nurses in emergency rooms are supposed to do overtime. But if you want to become a nurse in some other capacity, then a master’s degree, like an AGACNP master’s degree, can help you escape working in the emergency rooms.
One of the most common complaints among nurses is stress and burnout. The primary reason for burnout is long hours of work and physical strain that comes with a nursing job. Typically, nurses have to be on their feet for the entirety of their shifts.
The stress of working long hour shifts and being sleep deprived can eventually lead them to feel burnt out. This condition common among nurses is usually referred to as compassion fatigue. Although witnessing their patients dying is part of their jobs, nurses still can grieve over the death of patient that they had tended to for a long time.
Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals
Another health concern for nurses is that they are heavily exposed to hazardous chemicals. These chemicals include the waste of anesthetic gases, sterilizers, disinfectants, cleaning products, formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, etc. Due to being exposed to these chemicals, nurses can develop a number of chronic health problems, chief among them are respiratory issues. Many nurses become asthma patients due to a regular exposure to harmful chemicals. Moreover, if a nurse is pregnant, the chemicals can harm the baby’s health.
Many nurses also sustain physical injuries while on work. The most common physical injury a nurse suffers from is a musculoskeletal injury. According to clinical studies, 48% of all community nurses have suffered from work-related musculoskeletal injuries.
As a result of these injuries, nurses have to be absent from work for at least one day. Moreover, in severe cases, some nurses can develop a permanent deformity due to a physical injury that can occur at work.
While mental health problems are common everywhere, even among nurses, developing such disorders depend more on an individual’s personality. For instance, some nurses, in providing care, tend to become too attached to their patients, and if something tragic happens, it can negatively impact their psychological health.
As a result, they may experience headaches, fatigue, insomnia, weariness, anxiety, tachycardia, and pain in the lower limbs. In order to avoid mental illnesses due to stress at the job, nurses should be trained to not get too personally involved with their patients. Moreover, if a nurse has witnessed a lot of death and misery for a while, they should be called in for a counseling and general wellbeing examination.
Other Dangers at Work for Nurses
Besides the common health complications explained above, nurses can also experience some other physical dangers. These include the following:
- Infectious diseases: Nurses have to work a lot with needles, which means they are exposed to blood-borne pathogens. According to experts, about 800,000 healthcare workers suffer from a needle-stick injury. Due to this, they can develop HIV, Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and MRSA.
- Latex allergy: Nurses have to wear gloves made of latex at all times. It can lead to mild to severe allergic reactions, and dermatitis and anaphylaxis, respectively. In order to avoid latex allergies, nurses can switch to wearing vinyl gloves.
- Radiation exposure: If a nurse works in a radiology lab or ER, their risk of exposure to radiation is higher than other nurses. So, they should follow the proper protocol of working in the radiology department to keep themselves safe.
The Final Verdict
Nurses suffer from various physical and psychological stressors at work. Their psychological stress emerges from the nature of their job. They are required to serve long hours without even adequate resources in many cases. Moreover, every other healthcare facility is understaffed, making overtime mandatory for nurses. So, in such situations, it becomes challenging for the nurses to keep it all together, and might burnout as a result of chronic stress. Besides, many nurses also develop mental illnesses due to the stressful work environment. Healthcare facilities must take notice of these work-related health complications that nurses develop, and address them to help nurses work safely.