National Nurses Week encourages nurses to maintain personal health as well as patient health

National Nurses Week encourages nurses to maintain personal health as well as patient healthBy: Becky Pinney, Senior Vice President of Nursing

“Bound by paperwork, short on hands, sleep, and energy…nurses are rarely short on caring.” – Sharon Hudacek, author of A Day Book for Nurses

As National Nurses Week approaches I would like to personally thank our nurses and other Corizon Health team members for your tireless work and dedication to delivering quality care. Each of you is providing an essential service to a population who critically needs our knowledge and professional caring.

Nursing is recognized as a caring profession. As nurses our primary commitment is to care for our patients.  Nurses are viewed as individuals who have a selfless dedication to duty and who always put the needs of others first.

The American Nurses Association has chosen “Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit” as the theme for National Nurses Week for 2017.  During National Nurses Week the ANA is encouraging each of us to slow down and take some time to focus on our own health as well as the health of our patients. The ANA defines a healthy nurse as one who “actively focuses on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, personal, and professional well-being.”

As we celebrate Nurses Week I would encourage each of you to also take a careful look at how well you care for yourself on a daily basis.  Taking care of ourselves benefits us, our loved ones, our co-workers, and our patients.  A healthy nurse lives life to the fullest capacity, across the wellness/illness continuum as they become stronger role models, advocates, and educators, personally, for their families, their communities and work environments, and ultimately for their patients (ANA). For that to happen we must each take an active role in assuring our own physical and emotional health.

We must understand that the caring commitment of nurses can come as a heavy burden for any nurse who does not slow down to take care of themselves.  Correctional nursing is not an easy assignment.  We work in a high volume and fast paced environment.  Our care setting presents challenges that most of our counterparts “outside the walls” do not have to face on a daily basis.  In addition to our work demands, we may also have our own personal or family issues that are causing stress in our lives. It is easy for the correctional nurse to become overwhelmed and suffer burnout.

Burnout occurs when a person does not have the ability to relieve the physical and mental symptoms associated with constant stress.  Burnout can present itself in a variety of ways.  It is essential that we know the signs and symptoms of burnout if we are to recognize it and respond to stop its negative impact on ourselves and ultimately out patients.

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Procrastination – taking longer to get things done
  • Isolation from others
  • Taking our frustration out on others
  • Poor attendance at our job
  • Using food, drugs or alcohol to cope

Emotional Symptoms

  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
  • Self-doubt or sense of failure
  • Lack of motivation
  • Negative outlook
  • Feeling helpless or trapped

Physical Symptoms

  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Frequent headaches or muscle aches
  • Getting sick frequently
  • Change in sleep habits

If you are noticing any of these behaviors in yourself, take a deep breath and focus on addressing those issues that are negatively affecting you.  The best way to deal with burnout is to turn to the people around us. Social contact can be the key to getting your life back into balance and overcoming burnout. When we can invest in our closest relationships such as those with our partners, children, and friends it will help us regain our balance.  Being more sociable with our co-workers also is a good strategy.  Having friends at work can serve as a buffer for burnout.  It can also help to connect with a cause or a community group that is meaningful to you.

As we celebrate National Nurses Week I encourage each of you to evaluate the balance in your life necessary for your best health and for the health of your patients. I hope each of you has a special Nurses Week and please know that you are truly appreciated for all you do.