Most of us find nursing stressful and overly busy at times. We are dedicated workers by nature so we pour our heart and souls into our jobs and patients, many times leaving little reserve for ourselves. We skip our meal breaks, work extra shifts, and come in early and stay late when needed. It is my (unbiased, haha) opinion that nurses are one of the most dedicated professions, making us excellent worker bees.
One of the main reasons for this BLOG is to help nurses to achieve better work-life balance. Some of us are better at it than others. I, for one, have been very poor at this skill over the years. My work ethic has often left my family on the short end of the stick, making me feel very guilty.
I have been the “family nurse” on my side of the family for many years. We have a large family who live in the area, so there are always family nursing duties to be had 😊. I was the one on-call for all surgeries, post-op care, visits for bumps and bruises, calls regarding medical advice, and in a few instances, care for the very sick and dying.
As a nurse, I am sure that you have been privy to the same. Have you ever gotten texts with pictures seeking your advice of rashes, insect bites, and even stool? Luckily now, I have a beautiful daughter, Lindsey, who is a nurse to help me share the family nursing responsibilities. I am not complaining. I consider it an honor and love nursing my family. I am just setting the background for this story 😊.
In my early nursing years, I had worked several jobs simultaneously to help pay for "extras" that we needed. At one point, when my children were young teenagers, I had taken a job as a medication/treatment nurse on the weekends for a severely handicapped children’s home. This was in addition to my regular full-time job as a school nurse. I was working extra at this time to pay for new living room furniture. (Having the ability to find extra work for excellent pay as a nurse is one of the perks of the profession.)
One spring day, it was my Saturday to work, and I was getting ready to pull into the facility for my 3-11 shift, where I was the only nurse on duty. My 14-year-old daughter, Jessica, was with my parents for some forgotten reason. I received a call from my mom stating they had been in a car accident about 30 minutes from where I was at present. She related that everyone was okay, but they were going to the ER just to be checked out. The car apparently suffered minor damage. I spoke to my daughter, who related that she was fine as well as my parents, although my mom’s knee was hurting a little where it had bumped the dashboard.
I was relieved to hear this and asked that they call me with an update as I was heading into work now. My parents expressed shock that I was not coming to the ER to check on my daughter and stay with them for their visit. I explained that I was the only nurse at the facility that day, and it was a weekend, so it was hard to find a replacement at a moment’s notice. I could not just leave. My answer did not sit well with my parents… The feeling of guilt was exquisite for me, but I had to report to my job.
Luckily, everyone was fine, but unfortunately, I have many such stories in my career as a nurse where I could not just break away from my job to tend to family issues. It is a real downside to the profession. Do you have any similar experiences where you wanted to be with your family or another important life event, and your job took precedence?
The term work-life balance was not in existence when I was a young nurse. If it was, I never heard of it. Even though I felt guilty about not being with my family at times, the pull of working hard and being a dedicated nurse was powerful for me.
I sure hope that the medical field has begun to take work-life balance for nurses into consideration more than it has in the past. But from what I have seen, it is not doing a great job at it. So, it is up to you and me to make sure that we are happy with how our work and life exist together.
My wish for you is that you do a better job at creating space for yourself and are able to obtain peace and happiness in your life. I have attached a few great articles for you on work-life balance for nurses. It is important that you take 5 minutes to read and maybe begin to apply some of the tips to your life.
I am happy to report that after many years of nursing, I, too, have found work-life balance. Working as a nurse health writer has allowed me to make my own hours and take some time off when I want.
Just yesterday, I told my editor that I am taking 2 weeks off to visit my daughter in North Carolina and take a beach vacation. It was the easiest that I have felt about taking such a long time off, which I would never have done in the past. So, I, too am feeling more “balanced” these days by giving myself time to relax, walk daily and live life for myself a bit.
Here a few good articles on how to achieve work-life balance in nursing:
Happy Summer, nurse friends!