Stress in the nursing profession has greatly affected the quality of services delivered. If not managed well, it may lead to suffering and death of patients. It is therefore prudent to know its causes and consequences in order to develop a plan of action that can alleviate it.
Causes of Stress
Nurses, like any other professionals, experience stress which may degrade their performance. One of the causes of stress in the nursing profession is the nature of environment in which they work. Dismal working environment such as inadequate air conditioning or low light in rooms, and depreciated working equipment can lead to stress (Moustaka and Constantinidis, 2010). Relationship at work is another cause of stress. Nurses experience stress when in conflicts with fellow workers or when they are not socially supported by their colleagues. Use of abusive words on nurses by physicians has been found to cause stress (Manderino and Berkey, 1997). Moreover, the management approach taken by nurse supervisor can also cause stress to their subordinates. When the supervisor does not address the plight of nurses, he/she creates a stressful environment for them. Nurses also find it stressful when given large amount of work by their supervisors.
The kind of job nurses do also plunge them into stress. Many people get into the field of nursing with the desire of helping people but when they face the job, they meet a lot of challenges, especially, when patients die on their eyes. They also have to deal with infectious diseases and dangers they expose themselves while working with sharp equipment. Moreover, due to the fact that there are often few nurses, they are forced to work for an extra hours. Some organizations offer poor social packages for nurses and do not allow them to advance in their career. Patients normally require a lot of support. When nurses are not adequately prepared to handle them, they also fell stress about their incapability to help.
Effects of Stress
When stress is not properly managed, it can negatively affect nurses and patients. It affects the quality of work delivered by nurses. Nurses may not concentrate in whatever they do or make wrong decisions that may harm patients. Some nurses turn to alcohol and smoking as the way to get rid of nervousness.
Stress causes both physical and mental problems. Accumulated stress causes anxiety and depression. Levi (1990), points that stress is one of the major psychological disorders experienced at work. Accumulated stress lead to physical diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, and body pains (Moustaka and Constantinidis, 2010). Therefore nurses are less concentrating on their duties and pay patients less attention that may cause fatal errors.
Due to the effects of stress, patients do not receive quality and/or proper quantity of services they expect. That reflects on their self-being and time of hospitalization.
Action Plan to Alleviate Stress
For stress to be alleviated in nursing profession, all participants of care giving sphere, including the government, training institutions and hospital management should be actively involved in the process. The government should guarantee the maintenance of nurses’ rights. Hospital management should provide adequate equipment and favorable working environment. This can be done by allocating enough funds for the purchase of equipment and infrastructure rehabilitation. They should also consider employing more nurses and provide them with good social package. This will rise their morale satisfaction and improve the quality of their work.
The management should develop ways of motivating nurses such as job promotion and system of bonuses. They should take the plight of nurses seriously and act upon them.
Academic institutions, besides providing nurses with the necessary skills, should inform their student nurses on the reality they are to face in their jobs. They should be psychologically prepared and provided with further support and consulting.
Stress affects the quality of services offered by nurses. But if it is managed well, both patients and nurses can greatly benefit.