7 Most Important Health Issues For Nurses

7 Most Important Health Issues For Nurses

Nursing is one of the professions that has seen great development over time. Now, nurses are not limited to clinical settings only. Instead, nurses can work in different settings such as research, management, government, academics, etc.

Importance of nurses

Nurses are often described as the backbone of the healthcare industry. They play many important roles that any other medical professional does not cover. Nurses act as advocates for their patients, providing care and support to them that speeds up their recovery. In addition, nurses understand the needs of the patients, which helps them devise effective treatment plans as well.

Similarly, nurses involved in management ensure that the unit under their supervision runs smoothly. In contrast, nurses in academia pass on their knowledge and experience to future aspiring nurses. These are only a few of the essential roles that nurses play. However, the importance of nurses is far greater than it can be put into words.

Although this profession’s respect, value, and importance have increased significantly, there is still a shortage of nurses. It is due to the increased needs of the aging population and the retirement of experienced nurses. It is estimated that by the year 2030, seven states of the US will have a shortage of registered nurses. In addition, a million new nurses must enter the workforce in the coming years to avoid a shortage.

These eye-opening statistics have given birth to the need for new eager nurses. So, suppose you are an individual passionate about helping people and making a difference. In that case, nursing is the right profession for you. Additionally, several well-reputed institutions now offer a master of science in nursing online so students can learn at their own pace with a flexible schedule.

Health issues faced by nurses

By now, you may have realized the significance of nurses in the healthcare system. However, being a nurse is no easy feat. This job requires a lot of time, patience, and energy. Moreover, it comes with some risks as well. So, here are some of the most common health issues nurses face.

Covid-19

Nurses and other front-line workers are at the highest risk of contracting Covid-19. According to the Center for Disease Control, 6% of the patients hospitalized at the beginning of the pandemic were health care professionals, out of which 36% were nursing-related.

Nurses still have a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. It is because nurses come in contact with numerous people every day. So, if a nurse comes in contact with an infected person that has not yet been diagnosed, it can be harmful.

Infections

Nurses are exposed to different infections continuously while dealing with patients. Exposure to bacteria, viruses, and illnesses like hepatitis is a normal yet dangerous part of nursing. Moreover, it gets even riskier when the cold and flu season hits. However, infections can be avoided with the help of protective equipment, vaccinations, and regular checkups.

Exposure to chemicals

Sterilization and the use of disinfectants are crucial for maintaining a healthy hospital environment. However, being around such chemicals regularly can also have some side effects. These chemicals can put nurses at risk for developing various symptoms such as nausea and headache. In extreme cases, it can lead to reproductive issues and increase cancer risk.

Moreover, many chemicals used during treatment can also be harmful. So, nurses must take precautionary measures before dealing with any chemicals.

Exposure to radiation 

Radiation exposure is not a big risk for all nurses. However, it is risky for nurses in radiology departments or emergency rooms. X-rays are a common source of radiation in hospitals. X-rays release low radiation levels that are thought harmless, but safety precautions should still be followed.

Exhaustion 

Working as a nurse is not easy. You have to be alert and on your feet at all times. Nurses often have to work overtime and night shifts as well. Moreover, the workload increases when there is an emergency. All these factors can cause physical and mental exhaustion and lead to burnout.

Exhaustion can lead to nurses falling sick and affect their overall well-being. Also, fatigue and tiredness can affect concentration and decision-making skills. It can increase the chances of making mistakes while working.

Injury and violence 

Nurses are at a higher risk of sustaining injuries at work. For instance, nurses are more vulnerable to developing musculoskeletal disorders. They have to handle patients by positioning beds, helping patients lie down or get up, and so on. It can cause a strain on different parts of the body, especially joints. The most affected body parts include the low back, calf muscles, hands, and shoulders.

Additionally, sprains and strains are also commonly reported injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, reported that 20% of nurses leave positions that involve patient care due to such injuries.

Workplace violence is a common problem that is faced by every profession. However, healthcare professionals are at an increased risk of experiencing workplace violence due to several reasons. For instance, patients may get aggressive under drugs or alcohol. Patients often lash out due to mental health problems such as trauma or personality disorders. In addition, increased stress in patients and visitors can also give rise to violence.

Mental health issues

Nurses experience stress frequently. Stressors may involve long working hours and difficult working conditions. Additionally, nurses have to experience many things that can affect their mental health while working, such as patients passing away.  

50% of nurses have reported experiencing burnout due to chronic stress. Although burnout is different than depression, it can give birth to several other psychological issues. For instance, burnout can increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and even suicidal ideation. Overall, nurses are more vulnerable to developing mental health issues due to the complexities of their job.

Concluding thoughts 

Nurses are regarded as the heroes of the healthcare industry. Moreover, nurses are not only limited to clinical settings now. They play many important roles in management, academia, and research. Although nursing is a prestigious and respected profession, it is not easy.

Nurses are at higher risk of experiencing several health issues due to their demanding job. They are exposed to infections, chemicals, and radiation almost daily, which can harm their health. Moreover, their job puts them at risk of sustaining certain injuries and experiencing workplace violence. Lastly, nurses experience higher stress levels than other professions, affecting their psychological well-being.

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