How much more can nurses take when it comes to mental and physical injuries?
Growing up in the nursing field, starting as a nurse’s aid assistant, I fell in love with taking care of patients. It did not matter their background or why they needed help; I was there to help them to not only feel better but to live as close to normal life as possible. As the years progressed, it was apparent that not only I was getting tired, but so were the nurses around me. Achieving every level in nursing, there has only been a progression of increased stress, fewer resources, and more of the same every year. The organizations offer employee assistance programs for nursing staff to discuss their troubles and issues they are facing if they do not feel supported. The EAP is linked to the organization, and employee records have a higher incidence of exposure to reveal issues about the organization. Is this fair? No, of course not. Does it happen? Absolutely.
There have been more incidences than not that are not being reported, due to the fear of the organization penalizing the nurse reporter. Happens all the time and has pushed nurses into feeling helpless, that nothing else will get done about the problem, so why even report it. Then we have nurses that are pushing for legislation and acuity. These are gallant acts of heroism, but the real problem is sinister and reveals itself as overwhelming violence in not only the emergency rooms but trickling to the floors such as medical/surgical units, telemetry, orthopedics, and anywhere there is an observation or emergency holding bed in the hospital. Patients are transferred to these units where nurses are not trained to work with behavior issues that could present.
Is there a hole in the education system? Yes. Being a nursing professor in recent years, I have seen firsthand and created curriculum from the board of nursing approved frameworks. The information that is given is vague and does not offer much to nursing schools that are equally understaffed to create frameworks in a subject that the professor is not familiar with. For example, you may have a nursing professor that was a chemo nurse for about one year and have a total of two years then become a nursing chair for the department and overlooks curriculum. How about a maternity nurse teaching mental health? What do they know about mental health or addiction?
One of the largest failures in nursing is the education system and the lack of administration to be proactive and adhere to the trends in healthcare. Right now, we are in a full-blown opioid epidemic, and nothing is addressed in schools for curriculum modifications or withdraw protocols to assist nurses in determining and preventing patient on nurse attacks. This is what Nurses Against Violence Unite, Inc. which is a 501 c (3) nonprofit geared towards educating, empowering and eliminating violence in the workplace. Other initiatives will be to offer low fee to free third-party therapeutic services to help nurses, and healthcare workers receive care in a safe space without feeling of retaliation.
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