Nursing is a profession that can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time. Since nurses represent the majority of the workforce, they are often targeted by hospitals as a way to cut down their healthcare costs. Nurses play a very important role in the medical industry. Known for their most caring traits, nurses have now developed their own reputation and identity in the health care area.
But despite being recognized and valued, nurses still have to face several difficulties and challenges in their profession. Some of these challenges are easy to overcome but others are quite complicated for the nurses to handle. Given below are some of the major challenges that nurses are facing today:
1. Long Working Hours - Hospitals usually have long working hours and require nurses to work in long shifts. But in many cases nurses are assigned shifts in a back-to-back manner, right after the other. The job of a nurse is a tedious one and requires an individual to have great strength of mind along with having a gentle attitude towards the patients.
Being a nurse, you’ll face quite a lot of fatigue and feel like you have too many responsibilities with too little time. You will be required to administer medications, assess patients, do paperwork and perform treatments regularly. To carry out all this effectively, you need to plan ahead by organizing your tasks and sorting out your priorities. Create a flexible schedule that will assist you in your most hectic shifts.[i]
2. Less Compensation - Although nursing has a wide scope, the demand for this profession is decreasing since nurses do not get appropriate financial compensation according to their duties. As compared to doctors and physicians, the job of nurse is a lot harder. They continuously deal with the patients and spend unbearable long hours but still they aren’t compensated as much as they deserve.
The government should take initiatives at the local level to create a difference in the compensation issues. The compensation that nurses receive related to the responsibilities of the job should be increased. [ii]
3. Workplace Violence - Another major challenge that nurses face is the violent behavior of patients in the hospital. Many patients are difficult to handle and can be violent at times. This is why this profession is highly demanding and quite stressful at times.
Workplace violence is a serious problem among nurses. Most of the time, patients and co-workers (physicians and other nurses) are the major sources of violence against nurses. If you find any type of violent behavior in the workplace, report it directly to your supervisor, since it is the sole responsibility of the hospital administration to monitor any violent activity in the premises. [iii]
4. Lack Of Respect From Others - No doubt that nursing is a rewarding profession, yet many nurses face lack of respect from their patients, co-workers, administrators and even doctors. Although the nurses work long hours, still they are not given the respect they deserve for being an important part of the health care industry.
If you find that your co-workers do not respect you or do not want to work with you, try to resolve it peacefully and fast so that the resentment does not build up. However, if your coworker still refuses to bury the hatchet, communicate this to your supervisor since nursing is a profession that requires teamwork.
Sometimes, the patients also turn out to be a real challenge for many nurses. Some of them might be bad-tempered, stubborn, or simply do not follow your advice. Never form expectations about the behavior of your patients. Understand their condition during moments of frustration and ask if they need any help regarding any issue. [iv]
5. Exposure To Hazardous Chemicals - Nurses are constantly exposed to hazardous chemicals and materials that can be harmful for their health as well as skin. These harmful chemicals include cleaning agents, medications, radiations and many others.
Nurses should wear gloves whenever handling any hazardous chemicals and materials. Using powdered latex gloves may result in latex allergy and contact dermatitis. For this, the health care facilities should consider initiating a latex-free policy. [v]
6. Exposure To Diseases - Since nurses are responsible to look after the patients, they are always at the risk of being exposed to various diseases that these patients have. Many times, even the healthiest of the nurses catch these illnesses. It is imperative that the nurse to take care of him or herself by fortifying him/herself with the proper vitamins/nutrition, keeping up to date with his/her vaccinations, and staying physically fit.
There are many studies that report work-related injuries and diseases among nurses. Occupational health nurses play an important role here. Nurses should explore new strategies to help identify the potential seriousness of workplace injuries and illnesses. They should also advocate for better health and safety policies by monitoring the workplace and directly reporting the issues to the hospital management.[vi]
7. Shortage Of Nursing Staff - Nowadays, with the increase in health care costs, hospitals are facing crisis in managing and maintaining adequate nursing staff. This is because hospital CEOs are investing more in advanced medical technologies rather than focusing on maintaining proper staff. Due to the increasing demand for nurses, the nurse to patient ratio remains unbalanced. The number of patients is increasing day by day and there is an acute shortage of nurses to attend the patients.
Government should take initiatives to provide bonuses and a few premium packages in order to increase the supply of nurses. [vii]
Alwin Spencer is an experienced writer and currently working at Dissertation Point, a UK based academic writing firm. His expertise’s in academia and loves to write on student affairs.