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Clinical Corner: The Year of the Healthy Nurse

By Kora Behrens, Clinical Nurse Manager, Medical Solutions

May is a wonderful time to celebrate. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining. Most importantly, each May we spend a whole week celebrating nurses and the impact they have on their patients and healthcare. Nurses Week, celebrated each year May 6-12, provides a great opportunity to honor all the nurses who advocate for their patients, speak up for safety, and give of themselves daily to the patients they care for.

With all the time and effort spent on patient care, it’s easy for nurses to ignore and neglect their own health and wellbeing because their patients will forever be their number one priority. This presents a huge challenge for nurses to overcome! Nurse health is significant not only for each individual nurse’s good, but also because a nurse’s health has a direct impact on patient outcomes and the overall quality of care.

The increasing emphasis on safeguarding the health of nurses was the American Nurses Association (ANA) Nurses Week focus this year. The ANA dedicated 2017 as the “Year of the Healthy Nurse” with the tagline “Balance Your Life for a Healthier You.”

In keeping with this theme is the launch of Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN). This effort targets HNHN’s five fundamental indicators for wellness: rest, nutrition, physical activity, quality of life, and safety. Nurses are the face of our healthcare system, therefore focusing on their wellbeing has become important to delivering quality care to all patients and communities. To improve the wellbeing of our nurses we must first examine what their health struggles are.

Nurses are working longer hours and shifts, most often without breaks or moments to regroup. These long shifts make it difficult to get the adequate sleep and rest they need. Additionally, it becomes a challenge to eat healthy when nutritious foods are not easily accessible or cost effective. Lastly, working as a nurse is demanding on the mind and the body. It’s become increasingly difficult to avoid workplace violence and bodily injury while on the job. With such hurdles to navigate, it’s no wonder that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nurses have the fourth highest rate of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work, when compared to all other occupations.

So, how do we focus on helping nurses to get healthier? The first step is getting involved. For example, spread the word to others on how to become more active, hold educational lunch hours to talk about eating healthy, and cater in meals from healthy places to eat. It starts with one person putting in the effort and eventually it becomes an active lifestyle and part of the culture within your facility and/or department. Making the commitment is the first step.

Establishing relationships with community partners in an effort to initiate healthier lifestyles expands the movement even further. Nursing schools, state nursing associations, healthcare organizations, consumer organizations, local businesses, and other organizations can all get involved to make an impact and enhance the health of nurses in their area.

Even though Nurses Week 2017 has come and gone, it’s important that we remember this year’s focus on keeping nurses healthy. Step outside of your comfort zone and make a change to your lifestyle. Reach out to your colleagues and friends to lend a hand in taking that first step in making a change. Encourage each other and work together for an improved and healthier nurse force.

Click here to learn more about The Year of the Healthy Nurse.

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Sarah Wengert, a creative content writer for the amazing Medical Solutions based in Omaha, Nebraska. While I'm not a Travel Nurse, I love to travel and I truly appreciate the hard, important work that nurses do. I'm very happy to represent a company that cares so much about its people. Thanks for reading!