Nursing Stressful......Says Who?

  1. Alright gals and guys, I am sure there are a few hundred posts on this subject already. I did not want to look for them, so I started my own thread. I am a junior level nuring student who starts clinicals in the fall. I worry about the stress level of being a nurse, particularly ICU. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the stress level of being an RN? How do you handle it all? I am capable of handling stressful situations, but is nursing 24/7 stress. Wow! Somebody help me .
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   nurseangel47
    Yes, nursing is one of the jobs that the stressors do not match the salary to the stressee! Nursing especially in an intensive care unit would be even more stressful, unless you are willing to be a sponge and absorb the newness of being in a stressful learning environment, that is, until you've learned the basics of handling those intensively sick patients in an intensive care unit, you're gonna be potentially operating on a functional stress state, if you will. I've worked ICU as a float nurse and though I loved the fact you only had one or two pts., the acuity dictates that it is near impossible to have more than that. It's neat if you love to learn, are capable of feats of superhuman nerves tested each and every hour as these pts. are highly succeptable (sp?) to additional infections, downward spiraling at a moment's notice, etc. so nerves of steel does help. And I've found in my many years as a nurse that some blessed nurses are much more capable of being able to at least hold it together in a very professional calm manner while at work, maybe fall apart a bit off duty to decompress, but while on duty, are superheroes in my eyes.
    Other areas of nursing also give one instances to have the above qualities stated. LTC for example. 28-30 pts at a time, so many pills to pop into your folks that there's rarely time left to chart, assess, intervene, transfer out in case of falls/other situations where greater acuity of care is required. I think of all my work scenarios, hospice home nursing was the least stressful of all. You knew the outcome going in. You educated a lot, comforted a lot, kept them from becoming constipated while relieving pain and did an awful lot of pain control .... but not as stressful as hospital nursing or LTC. Doc's offices can be hectic but there again, not quite as stressful as hospitals. Not nearly the salaries either, tho'.
    Hope this helps.
  4. by   jaslo98
    Quote from nurseangel47
    Yes, nursing is one of the jobs that the stressors do not match the salary to the stressee! .

    I agree. Unfortunately this is true for any profession where your main duties consist of providing acts of service to the public. For example, cops, firemen,those in the armed forces, nurses...etc. These are just a few examples of extremely high stress jobs where the pay doesn't even come close to compensating these people for what they do. In my opinion you can't really put a price on what these people do. They virtually put their own lives at risk to care for the lives of others. And yes, I think nurses (most anyway) put their lives at risk. Think of all the diseases we are exposed to continually. Then you have the people who entertain for a living.... and they get paid millions and demand more....and they get more!!! What a crazy messed up world.

    But, if you think about it, If the people I listed above got paid millions for what they do (which they certainly deserve it. Especially the first three I listed) you would have all the wrong kind of people in these professions because they'd only be doing it for the money. So I don't have the answers, but I do think it is obvious something is not quite right. Anyway, I kind of got off the subject, so I'll quit rambling now.
  5. by   Tweety
    My stress level is usually a moderate 3-5 on a 1-10 scale. That can change in a minute and most days it's all over the place from 1 all the way up to 10. I recently posted about my weekend. My stress level from being short staffed, feeling a bit under the weather myself, and having sick patients was hovering between 8 and 9 for 12 hours. It takes it's toll.

    So how to do deal? I vent my concerns to co-worker, in my blog, here, anywhere. I try not to hold it in. I try, key word "try" to take care of myself away from work spritiually, mentally and physically. This includes getting enough sleep, exercise, eating well, reading, yoga, and having fun, taking vacations.

    Professionally, I try to learn new things. I've moved about three different units within the hospital, and found a niche for now. I'm continuing my education towards a BSN and possible MSN for options in the future.

    15 years of med-surg and I'm not burned out, but I've been close a time or two.
  6. by   GrnHonu99
    I work in the ICU. My stress level can range from totally calm and relaxed on a slow night to 20+ when I get an admission whose BP is 90/55 on 2 maxed out vasopressors..and her temp was 33.5 (yikes)...HR over 135 with a SA bleed...sats in the 70's vented...pulm edeema from her neuro condition, swan insertion, EVD insertion...running down the hall to CT bagging her and her sats dropping, worked on her for over 6 hours and my coworkers were still working on her when I left...yep I think my stress level was +20 that morning..and yes I didnt levae till 2 hrs past my shift. But it was exciting!
  7. by   lauralassie
    Like any other job, some days it's 10 some days it's1. You learn to adapt. I've worked critical care for almost 30 years. You'll get so you just do what you gotta do. It becomes second nature. Don't worry about it so much. Just learn as you go . If you enjoy critical care, you'll do fine.
  8. by   all4schwa
    Quote from ELKMNin06
    I work in the ICU. My stress level can range from totally calm and relaxed on a slow night to 20+ when I get an admission whose BP is 90/55 on 2 maxed out vasopressors..and her temp was 33.5 (yikes)...HR over 135 with a SA bleed...sats in the 70's vented...pulm edeema from her neuro condition, swan insertion, EVD insertion...running down the hall to CT bagging her and her sats dropping, worked on her for over 6 hours and my coworkers were still working on her when I left...yep I think my stress level was +20 that morning..and yes I didnt levae till 2 hrs past my shift. But it was exciting!
    Yikes!! So then what could even be done for this person????
  9. by   cardiacRN2006
    As a new grad it will be a 10. When you have slow days, you will wonder what you are missing, and will be stress over it. Sometimes, I may dip to a 6 or 7. But as the new kid on the block, they make (my peers) sure that I'm never in my comfort zone. Seriously, they make it a point to not be there. So I get 1:1's or the new admits, or the pt in complete heart block who needs an immediate transvenous pacer placed at bedside, or the really young pt who's BP is 58 on Epi, levophed, dopamine and vasopressin.....

    Yep, it's a 10.
  10. by   hica19
    well nursing is a highly unpredictable career. You never know what you will be getting into each work day until you get there. And the stress level really fluctuates. Each time I work, my mind is moving a million miles an hour thinking of what I need to do, what I might be missing, etc. And I agree with a previous poster that even when I'm all caught up, I still feel like I'm missing something. I try my very best to keep it all together during work. Once I'm off though, I totally relax in front of the computer or tv. Before I became a nurse, I used to really love watching E.R, but these days it's one of the last shows I wanna watch now.
  11. by   GrnHonu99
    Quote from all4schwa
    Yikes!! So then what could even be done for this person????
    not a whole lot actually. She coded after I left, they brought her back, sent her to surg. had to abort bc she was to unstable. Shes still alive at the moment but she needs surgery soon!
  12. by   interleukin
    Hi,

    The lion share of stress in nursing is self induced and self perpetuated.

    A competent nurse can work safely only when he/she is working at the pace of one competent nurse. NEVER exceed that pace. When you do, for whatever reason, not only will stress skyrocket, but the door to ineffiiciencies and disasters will begin to open.

    Of course, the ability to increase that pace will be proportional with practice. But, situations will invariably arise when the pressure to exceed the safe pace will come knocking hard on the door of good sense.

    That's when a nurse's self-esteem and self-respect will be tested. And it is the development of these characteristics that will make or break, not only the career of the individual, but of nursing as a legitimate profession.

    Do not accept assignments that are beyond your clinical ability. When presented with such, or when they escalate out of control, demand help.

    If the nurse does not, he/she, without doubt, will take the fall.

    Nursing sudents must be taught that their safety and professional well being come first. Saying, "no" to assignments or tasks that are either too demanding to maintian safety, or ramp out of control, will engender respect.

    If it brings reprimand, cynicism, condescension, or managerial resistence, then it's time for a new position.

    Not asking for help will create an instant breeding ground for stress and discontent.

    Expect and practice equality.

    Practice saying, "Your [behavior/condescension/rudeness/yelling/etc.] is unacceptable and is an embarassment to your proferssion." You will be too upset to think it when it's needed.

    Your desk is yours. Your report is vital. Don't hesitate to take it when the time comes. Don't go searching for charts for others. They're around.

    Stop apologizing for doing your job. If the doctor is supposed to put in orders, make them do it. God knows, you have enough to do and they will not very receptive when you ask them to help you with a turn or insert an ng tube. If you have to wake up a doc for a good reason, it's not about him, or you, or the price of Bahamian swordfish. It's about care. The CEO will not apologize to you after you get sprayed with sputum from disonnected vent tubing.

    In general, do not clean up after others. If they made a mess, they can help clean it. It is this kind of everyday behavior that perpetuates the die-hard, nurse-as-maid identity.

    Require that they wash their hands according to contemporary standards of infection control. It's not about them, it's about the patient.

    When approached without the courtesy of a, "Good morning, or hello," I simply say, "I'm fine..how are you?"

    I say it with a smile and, in ten years, it has never never failed to create the expectation of respect and decency to the interaction.

    "Yeah, but you're a guy!"

    Well, fuhgettaboutit!! Respect is behavior specific, not gender specific.

    Unless your patient's crashing, take your break and take your lunch. No one cares how many you've skipped. And it's is not a badge of honor. Rather, it says, "My well being is not important. And I will fulfill whatever demand you place upon me because I am a nurse and this is my calling!"

    Why don't you just throw yourself on a pointy stick while you're at it.

    Take a stand...be a true advocate for not only your patient..but more importantly...for yourself.
  13. by   ICRN2008
    I am going to print out what Interleukin wrote and keep it on my clipboard, with his permission.

    I wish that someone had told me those things before I started my first job as a Medical Technologist! This time I know better than to martyr myself at the expense of my physical and psychological health.
  14. by   burn out
    nursing is stressful but not distressful...if it becomes distressful it is time to get out.

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