Be Nice or Leave

March 17, 2009

Bedside nurses give advice on being kinder to one another.

Last week's blog described what bedside nurses are saying in their blogs, that the death of bedside nursing will soon be upon us unless something is done. Possible solutions focus on the work environment (eg, better pay, better hours, support for nurses' unions), the need for work-life balance, and improved interpersonal relationships, which one nurse blogger described as "being kinder to one another."

Bedside nurses are in the trenches 24/7. Often understaffed and overworked, bedside nurses report that they typically never take breaks and rarely are able to eat unless they "gulp it down" just before they faint. Not surprisingly, much of the nurse-to-nurse advice is incredibly basic: take scheduled breaks, go off the unit for lunch or dinner, and use the restroom as needed. As one nurse wrote, "do you support each other so everyone gets a break and lunch (not just the smokers) or do you resent your fellow nurses for taking a few minutes to regroup and refresh?" This is an interesting question because a number of nurse bloggers want other nurses to know how tough and "dedicated" they are because they work for the duration of the shift (and work overtime) and never take a break. And they never complain but they do brag about their "work ethic." I imagine a number of readers (myself included) feel at least a little inadequate when reading this.

In addition to taking breaks, many nurse bloggers note that bedside nurses (and probably all nurses in general) need to be kinder to one another. "It's important that nurses remember that nurses are human beings and need time for themselves, someone to listen to them, and someone to remind them that they are appreciated," wrote one nurse. Another nurse wrote that she hoped that she could talk to her husband about her day when she arrived home, but her husband finds her work "too depressing." Instead she confides in a friend, who also is a nurse.

After reading so many blogs about being kinder to one another, I'll add something else. Nurses need to be kinder to themselves, as well as kind to one another.