'Unhealthy' nurses...bad examples? - page 7

I hope this post doesn't offend anyone,but I have noticed a lot of the nurses I know are overweight,smokers or both. Obviously people become nurses because they completed school,and are qualified to... Read More

  1. by   nwrn
    I am new to nursing and I too have noticed that many of my coworkers are considered "overweight" by conventional standards and have given this some thought. It seems that most nurses on my unit are on their feet moving 90% of the day. They are certainly burning more kcal than they have time to consume during our 12hr shifts. I am beginning to think about stress levels and cortisol release being a primary culprit in this overweight phenomena. Could this be a contributing factor?
  2. by   VivaLasViejas
    We're straying a little far off-topic here, so please allow me to redirect it with a couple of thoughts:

    1) Nurses are human, with the same sorts of hang-ups and quirks as everyone else. In a way, I think this actually adds to our credibility with patients, as we can share what we've learned from our own struggles with bad habits. I've found that most people do listen to those who have "been there, done that".

    2) Cultural standards of physical beauty really have no place in a discussion about nursing competence (or lack thereof). Who CARES what a nurse looks like, as long as he or she can do the job? JMHO.
  3. by   Tweety
    Quote from nwrn
    I am new to nursing and I too have noticed that many of my coworkers are considered "overweight" by conventional standards and have given this some thought. It seems that most nurses on my unit are on their feet moving 90% of the day. They are certainly burning more kcal than they have time to consume during our 12hr shifts. I am beginning to think about stress levels and cortisol release being a primary culprit in this overweight phenomena. Could this be a contributing factor?

    Probably that's true that stress is a contributing factor.

    However we are not moving at an aerobic base that seriously burns a lot of calories.

    More than the sedentary person for sure, but I don't think we're burning off what we eat, especially considering most of us eat the standard American Diet.
  4. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Cultural standards of physical beauty really have no place in a discussion about nursing competence (or lack thereof).
    Actually it does, if a pt. has the viewpoint that what someone sees is the kind of care they are getting (and i'm certainly not saying i agree with that, so no point in flaming me. But we all know there are people that think that way, who forget that nurses are human).
  5. by   Tweety
    Quote from Marie_LPN
    Actually it does, if a pt. has the viewpoint that what someone sees is the kind of care they are getting (and i'm certainly not saying i agree with that, so no point in flaming me. But we all know there are people that think that way, who forget that nurses are human).


    What you both say is true. In an ideal world we as nurses will be judged on our compassion, knowledge and skills.

    But we know what you say is true too. we don't live in an ideal world. Many people judge by what they see on the outside, so we have to deal with that.
  6. by   neetnik461
    I was just wondering if anybody has ever gotten any flak from patients or higher-ups? Or do you feel you aren't taken as seriously because of how you look,or because you need a cigarette break?
    I work in an ICU with one nurse who is morbidly obese, a smoker and who has a very difficult time moving around. This particular nurse is sharp and intelligent, she has been an ICU nurse for over 15 years, she was one of my favorite preceptors during my orientation. But . . over the past year I have had at least 3 families/patients question me regarding her competency.

    Basically I have been asked if she is an "RN", if she is "a regular on our floor", if she is "a nurses aid", if she is "well enough to be a nurse". It's really uncomfortable to field these questions and I have assured all parties that she is indeed an RN and has over 15 years of experience in our ICU and is a very competent nurse.

    I hate to say it, but nursing is like everything else, many will judge a book by it's cover (at least at first). Obesity and smoking are not the only things that turn patients/families off though.

    I also work with a wonderful/intelligent nurse who is highly opinionated and tends to have a "lecturing" and condescending type mannerism. She is normal weight and doesn't smoke. Yet, there have been at least 2 instances (since I have been in this ICU) in which families of patients have requested to the NM that she not take care of their loved one.
  7. by   2bNurseguru
    Quote from nwrn
    i am new to nursing and i too have noticed that many of my coworkers are considered "overweight" by conventional standards and have given this some thought. it seems that most nurses on my unit are on their feet moving 90% of the day. they are certainly burning more kcal than they have time to consume during our 12hr shifts. i am beginning to think about stress levels and cortisol release being a primary culprit in this overweight phenomena. could this be a contributing factor?

    there are alot of factors that contribute to someones weight:
    if energy in is greater than energy out, the result is weight gain.

    1. food choices---poor verses good food choices. eating more fruits and vegetables leaves less room for other high calorie foods.
    example: bagel: 135 calories: 1g fat, 0mg cholesterol
    glazed donut: 210 calories; 11g fat, 25mg cholesterol

    potato chips (small bag) ; 150 calories; 10g fat; 0mg cholesterol
    pretzels (small bag) 100 calories; 0.5g fat; 0mg cholesterol

    baked potato: 310 calories; 1g fat; 0mg cholesterol
    french fries: 350 calories; 16g fat, omg cholesterol

    fat: [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif][color=#4d4871]1 gram = 9 calories[color=#4d4871]
    [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif] protein: [color=#4d4871][font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]1 gram = 4 calories
    [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif] carbohydrates: [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif][color=#4d4871]1 gram = 4 calories
    [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif] alcohol: [color=#4d4871][font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]1 gram = 7 calories
    [color=#4d4871]high fat foods should be eaten less often.

    2. lifestyle--sedentary vs active lifestyle, smoking, eating out etc.
    3. economic level- research shows that low-income people have a higher incidence of obesity----are more prone to buying fast food, are not exposed to nutrition education including reading food labels, do not have easy access to fresh produce
    4. genetics: it plays a major role than most people want to believe. some people have a higher rate of metabolism than others. personally i have a high metabolism and there are times i try to gain some weight with no success. on the other hand, i have a sister with a slow metabolism who tends to gain more weight despite the fact that we eat the same foods, and i sometimes eat larger portions than she does.
    5. emotional stability: stressis sometimes associated with emotional eating. food is a source of comfort for some people when they are stressed out, angry, lonely, bored, etc. doing somthing else that you enjoy like taking a walk, reading a book , rather than eating when stressed out helps.

    i work with a lot of overweight clients and taking simple steps one a time always seems to work best. i make my clients to sign a contract on something new that they are going to do every week.

    something else is that diets don't work. if it's something that you can't do for a lifetime, it's not worth wasting your money since when you go off the diet, all the weight comes back.
  8. by   Lady Nicole
    Quote from fifi2323
    Or do you feel you aren't taken as seriously because of how you look,or because you need a cigarette break? I hope this hasn't happened,since its discriminatory and wrong,but we all know that doesn't mean much!
    I'm not a nurse yet, so I don't have first hand experience here, but isn't it common for nurses to not even get lunch breaks, let alone cigarette breaks? That seems pretty unhealthy to me! :uhoh21:

    But in regards to the original question, I would say that you're only a bad example if you can't live up to what you are telling the patient to do- such as a smoker who can't quit advising someone who is trying to, or a nurse whose weight is out of control due to her own personal neglect (I know there are other factors, please don't read into what I'm saying) advising someone that they need to lose weight.

    Unfortunately, in the world we live in right now you will find people who do make snap judgments based on appearance, and a common one is that overweight=unhealthy. Just don't let it stop you. Like an earlier poster said, work on your own emotional health so that you can deal with such attitudes and not let it drag you down. :wink2:
  9. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from Josh L.Ac.
    So it is okay to discriminate against a group for setting a bad example because they have a low BMI, but not fair to do it to a group that has a high one?
    It isn't discrimination to fire someone that can't perform key elements of a job. For this reason, people who are overweight have never been high fashion models (plus size models notwithstanding). Manufacturers have every right to dictate the bodies on which they choose to display their clothes to what they consider the best advantage. This is why you've never heard of any designers being sued for discrimination for not using any other body type than that which they've chosen as their human mannequin.

    Nursing is a whole different story. We either have the skills and expertise needed or we don't. We're not here to display someone's clothes, we're here to provide care. Weight, high or low, is not a qualifying factor, except as it pertains to our ability to provide key functions of care.
  10. by   carol72
    I live in California which, to me is the pinnacle of hyperantidiscrimination. I would never even think of acting like I noticed the Snickers bar in the hand of the dietician, physician or nurse. I notice, yes, I am human but that is it. Some people don't mind being overweight & others do. After working with patients for 18 years I realize the healthcare team does not always practice what it preaches. I consider it none of my business if a part of the healthcare team has practices which I personally feel are undesirable or seen by mainstream society as unhealthy. Do they do their jobs? This is what does matter to me, personally.
  11. by   Josh L.Ac.
    Quote from mercyteapot
    It isn't discrimination to fire someone that can't perform key elements of a job. For this reason, people who are overweight have never been high fashion models (plus size models notwithstanding). Manufacturers have every right to dictate the bodies on which they choose to display their clothes to what they consider the best advantage. This is why you've never heard of any designers being sued for discrimination for not using any other body type than that which they've chosen as their human mannequin.
    Agreed. We might argue about what standards the fashion industry is trying to convey, but it is the designer's product and they can market them as they like.

    Quote from mercyteapot
    Nursing is a whole different story. We either have the skills and expertise needed or we don't. We're not here to display someone's clothes, we're here to provide care. Weight, high or low, is not a qualifying factor, except as it pertains to our ability to provide key functions of care.
    Here lies the source of the conflict. Is being "fit" and a non-smoker an important attribute for nursing, or is it irrelevant?

    If we subscribe to the idea that nurses are human and have the right to their vices (smoking, eating, not exercising), then by default we would have to agree that patients are human too (and have the right to their vices too). This would mean that judging the patient's behavior as being counterproductive to their health be inappropriate, since after all, it is their right to have their vices.


    Another implication would be if the patient sees an overweight nurse and feels this disqualifies them to provide adequate care, then it would be perfectly acceptable for the patient to request a new nurse. We might think it is wrong, but then who are we to judge, since they are entitled to their opinion?



    I think I just slipped into a "medical autonomy" argument without realizing it. I was trying to parallel the "our lifestyle as nurses is irrelevant" with the "my lifestyle as a patient is irrelevant", but I fumbled it and failed miserably. Many apologies.


    Great avatar BTW.
  12. by   pepsihla
    I have been approached by patients, family members and even asked by my own family members in why there are so may unhealthy and overweight healthcare workers.

    I can see their point, but I respond by telling them what is important if they have a safe, competent and well educated nurse.

    I am not overweight, I don't smoke and I rarely drink and this doesn't make me a better nurse than one who does, perhaps healthier, but not better.
  13. by   ktwlpn
    [QUOTE=Josh L.Ac.]
    If we subscribe to the idea that nurses are human and have the right to their vices (smoking, eating, not exercising), then by default we would have to agree that patients are human too (and have the right to their vices too). This would mean that judging the patient's behavior as being counterproductive to their health be inappropriate, since after all, it is their right to have their vices.
    Another implication would be if the patient sees an overweight nurse and feels this disqualifies them to provide adequate care, then it would be perfectly acceptable for the patient to request a new nurse. We might think it is wrong, but then who are we to judge, since they are entitled to their opinion? QUOTE There is one glaring difference-we are talking about patients in hospital probably BECAUSE because of their smoking or obesity while we are dragging our somewhat fat,smoking butts up and down the hall.(if we are addressing these issues with these pts. then they are likely having health problems as a direct result of them -how many times have you had a patient in for an appendectomy and lectured them about their weight or smoking?) These people are probably having trouble holding their jobs or are on disability....Pts have the right to their vices and I don't think we are "judging" them when we say to a COPD'er that seem to be popping up more and more frequently--"You know-if you quit smoking now ...etc" By the time you get to the mid to late stages of these chronic diseases caused by smoking,obesity,alcoholism you well know you have done it to yourself. No surprises for these pts. Not much sense in beating the dead horse at that stage in IMHO.These pts. used to really bother me " Turn off my Oxxy, honey while I smoke" then I realized the pt likely is half dead-why stop the only pleasure they have?

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