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The Biggest Issues Nurses Face Today

According to annual surveys, Registered Nurses are among the most trusted professionals. The care, advocacy, and compassion you give allow patients to believe in, and trust in the care you provide. Nonetheless, the job is tough. Issues like long shifts, low staffing, complex charting, and the overall responsibility can make nursing less appealing. This article will describe some of the most significant challenges and how you can overcome them.

1. Schedule
One big issue you face are long shifts. Many nurses work 12 hours, which can quickly turn into 14 hours or more. Most desired departments don’t start nurses on day shift if their turnover is low. So, night and rotating shifts are where many nurses start their career. If you are not caring for yourself, the schedule will become even more exhausting.

Tips for surviving the schedule:

– Get enough sleep – Working weekends and holidays make it difficult to get enough sleep. When most of the world stays up late on weekends, you must remember the long shift ahead. Your body needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night to be rested and ready for the next day.

– Optimal Nutrition – Long shifts make many nurses reach for too many caffeinated drinks. Switch to water to keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration can leave you feeling fatigued. Try a few large glasses of water before a giant cup of coffee.

2. Patient Ratio and Staffing
Patient load is one of the major complaints of nurses. Having too many patients becomes overwhelming. Nursing has seen an increase in patient acuity in recent years due to more complex health needs of patients. For example, a post-surgical knee patient may also have diabetes, requiring the nurse to check the blood sugar and administer insulin. Low staffing will increase the patient load as well, leading nurses to feel unable to care for their patients as they
see fit.

Tips for surviving patient ratios and staffing:

– Delegate – To cope with low staffing or increased patient loads, RNs should delegate tasks within the scope of practice to aides and LPNs.

– Huddle Often – Huddles with the charge nurse and management to create solutions may help. This can be done at multiple times during the shift if patient assignments change.

3. Electronic Medical Records
One newer challenge in nursing is the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). The EMR holds proof of care. Consequently, if you do not complete your charting, it’s like the care never happened. Sometimes charting can leave patients feeling as though it’s more important than the care they receive. You must be mindful of the patient’s perception of when and how you chart.

Tips for using EMRs:

– Pen and Paper – Keeping pen and paper nearby can help organize your charting. Create a checklist, keep notes, and a simple timeline to simplify and streamline documentation.

– Chart as you go – Before seeing your next patient, take time to document. This practice helps with initial assessments each shift, which typically requires more charting.

4. Professional Responsibility
You hold legal responsibility for all patients under your care. If a physician gives an incorrect
order, you won’t be absolved of the blame if you carry it out. This requires you to be fully aware
of the risk of each order, prescription, and treatment you provide.

Tips for working within your professional responsibility:

– Chain of command – Always know your chain of command. Start with the charge nurse to get the issue addressed and move up the chain of command per facility policy.

– SBAR – Know your SBAR report, so the doctor knows exactly what is going on. Give a thorough report using the SBAR method:

S – Situation
B – Background
A – Assessment
R – Recommendation

Using these tips can help you tackle the most significant issues you face today. Healthcare is changing, and it’s our duty as nurses to navigate through the workload and responsibility. Don’t suffer alone, use these tips and get support from other nurses who understand. Take care of yourself. Always put your needs first because if the nurse isn’t well, who will take care of the patients?

The Biggest Issues Nurses Face Today
Janine Kelbach

Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of WriteRN.net.