Nursing can hurt and not just because it is difficult to deal with the ever-changing nature of healthcare and the incredible toll that long hours can take on a nurses’ emotional well-being. It is no secret that nursing can also take a physical toll on the body. The nature of nursing means that injuries are almost expected.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report that the work injury rate for nurses is 12.7 cases per 10,000 workers. This compares quite unfavorably with the rate of 3.8 for all other industries combined. Moving, twisting, and lifting (increasingly heavier) patients causes the highest rate of strains and sprains of all professions. Slips and falls also contribute to the injury rate.
Making matters works is the lesser-known contributor to nursing injuries – workplace violence. According to the BLS, violent events account for 12.2% of all occupational injuries for nurses which again compares quite unfavorably to the 4.2% for all other industries combined.
The vast majority of injuries to nurses (74.1%) happen in hospitals.
Injuries to the trunk are the most common for RNs of all age groups with the exception of nurses in the over-65 age group. For nurses over the age of 65, the trunk, upper and lower extremities, head, and multiple body parts appear to be injured equally often.
Start with the basics – try to avoid illnesses and injuries. Offer resources that will help nurses connect with good information on how to take care of themselves. Be sure to include some of the following:
Even with the best-laid plans, a nurse can still be injured on the job, so what should happen when a nurse is injured and are there strategies to help strengthen the body to make injuries less likely or less severe? Practicing both active and passive exercises in nursing can help build strength and endurance. As with any form of restorative or strength-building exercise, check with your doctor first and make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly.
At the end of a 12-hour or longer shift, it can feel like you have gotten all of the exercise that you need or can stand—but taking a few extra moments for simple stretches and back exercises can go a long way towards protecting yourself from injury. Taking time for self-care is more important than ever. An important part of nurse retention is making sure nurses know from the beginning of their training how to connect with resources that will help protect their physical and emotional well-being.
Employee-friendly measures, like increasing compensation and supporting nurse scheduling that is more conducive to work-life balance, are an important part of the effort to improve Nurse satisfaction and retain the existing nurse workforce. Nurses are more likely to stay if they feel confident in their skills and knowledge, as well as their preparation for providing care. HealthStream helps facilitate two nursing competency-related programs that support greater job satisfaction.
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