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  1. First, the World Health Organization has declared that 2020 is the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The theme for 2020, Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Nursing the World to Health, demonstrates how nurses are central to addressing a wide range of health challenges. It will encourage nurses and the public to celebrate, but also provide information and resources that will help to raise the profile of the profession throughout the year and attract a new generation into the nursing family. 2020 is also Florence Nightingale's Bicentennial – celebrating her 200th birthday on May 12. Having the Year of the Nurse and Midwife coincide with Florence Nightingale’s bicentennial raises the exciting prospect of nurses finally being recognized for all the good they do. And the Nursing Now Nightingale Challenge will produce a new cohort of young nurse leaders who will take the profession forward over the next decade. National Nurses Week is May 6-12, 2020. Supported by the American Nurses Association, National Nurses Week celebrates nurses and their role in society. The week also helps to raise awareness about nursing as a possible career choice and also to educate the public about the kind of work nurses are involved in. And, finally, coinciding with that week is: National Student Nurses Day May 8 National School Nurse Day May 8 International Nurses Day May 12 So there is a lot happening for you to get involved in. But we also need to be aware of and address some of the challenges that might be jeopardizing the forward progress of our profession. Challenge #1 There is a NURSING SHORTAGE on the horizon due to these factors: Aging Population As the population ages, the need for health services increases. Aging Work Force One-third of the workforce could be at retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years. Nursing faculty is also experiencing a shortage, and this leads to enrollment limitations, limiting the number of nurses that a nursing school can generate. Nurse Burnout Some nurses graduate and start working and then determine the profession is not what they thought it would be. Others may work a while and experience burnout and leave the profession. Career and Family Often during childbearing years, nurses will cut back or leave the profession altogether Regions Some areas of the country struggle to fulfill the basic needs of the local population as a whole. Growth A higher need is seen in areas that have high retirement populations. Violence in the Healthcare Setting The ever-present threat of emotional or physical abuse adds to an already stressful environment. Emergency department and psychiatric nurses at a higher risk due to their patient population. Challenge #2 Unhealthy Lifestyles There is an abundance of nurses with unhealthy lifestyles. We need to give attention to the personal health of our nurses. After all, if we don’t have healthy nurses, everything else we try to do to increase our nurse population will be of no avail. So let’s look at the state of our health. A study of 2,730 hospital nurses from the American Nurses Association (ANA) Health Risk Appraisal (HRA), surveyed from October 2013 to December 2015, found serious deficits in diet, sleep, and physical activity that may jeopardize nurses’ health and negatively impact the healing strength of the profession. (And from my vantage point as a Wellness Practitioner, this data probably holds and in fact may even be worse in 2020.) For nearly every indicator, the health of America's nurses is worse than that of the average American. Nurses are more likely to be overweight, have higher levels of stress and get less than the recommended hours of sleep. Here are some key findings: (Notice how many are within your control) Nurses are Exhausted 56-57% reported often coming in early and/or staying late and working through their breaks to accomplish their work 33% said they had often been assigned a higher workload than that with which they were comfortable 59% of respondents reported that they worked 10 hours or longer daily 47% slept fewer than 7 hours per day. Nurses are Overweight 56% were overweight/obese with a body mass index > 25 kg/m2. Only 14% of the nurses were eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day (2.5 cups). Just 45% of the respondents were engaged in aerobic activity of at least moderate intensity for 2.5 or more hours per week, while 47% performed muscle-strengthening activities twice a week. Nurses Do Not Prioritize Their Health Over Others 68% put their patients’ health, safety, and wellness before their own. Nurses are Stressed and Burned Out From a study by the Cleveland Clinic of their nurses, 63% suffer from burnout. If it is not addressed nurses can become disengaged and eventually leave the profession. And, severe levels of stress are not only unhealthy but can negatively affect patient care. As you know, if nurses don’t adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors they are at risk for chronic diseases and early mortality. On the other hand, nurses who make healthy lifestyle choices have a spill-over effect and will be more apt to discuss and recommend preventive behaviors such as smoking cessation, more physical activity, and eating a healthier diet to the people under their care. With personal health on top of their mind, they may be better able to prevent workplace injury and avoid errors related to fatigue. So nurses who adopt healthy lifestyles may even provide better patient care. So What Does All This Mean For You? YOU can contribute by taking action on whatever you think would work for you. After all, you are the key to everything that will make The Year of the Nurse a truly important opportunity to showcase what we do and who we are. In my opinion, your best option that could be a win-win for both you and your profession is to take action on adopting a plan to get healthier. You are, after all, being watched by those around you as the expert on health, and if you embrace wellness as a lifestyle choice, you will make an impact on other’s behaviors as well. Don’t overlook the fact that you are a role model for not only your expertise but how well you model the health practices you teach to others to manage and prevent the chronic diseases they experience. And because this is the beginning of a NEW YEAR this is the perfect time to get started. What Are You Waiting For? Please share your lifestyle enhancement ideas to give other nurses ideas to draw from.
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