Avoiding the Perils of Nursing

By Althea Aubrey, RN, BSN

Director of Medical-Surgical Nursing, Methodist Dallas Medical Center

Ask any nurse why she or he chose nursing as a career and generally you’ll hear a story about how a nurse personally touched his or her life, either directly or through a loved one.

My story centers around my mom. I was only 10 when she died. She had Lupus, an autoimmune disease, and she passed away from the complications associated with it. I remember going to the hospital and feeling like the nurses were not only caring for my mom, but caring for me as well. They treated us so well and I thought to myself, I want to be just like them when I grow up. If I could make someone else’s family feel like these nurses made me feel, then that would be my way to give back. I was committed to nursing from that time forward.

Throughout the years, nursing has been a career that has offered plenty of rewards and plenty of challenges. It may seem odd to say that I have discovered the perils of nursing, but when you think about it, nurses put their heart and soul into caring for another human being and that can be perilous.

Perhaps the biggest peril that nurses face today is the feeling of compromise — the tug between the increasingly demanding administrative aspects of their jobs and the need to spend more time at the bedside caring for and connecting with their patients and families. As the economy has worsened and more people have found themselves without jobs and without health insurance, we are seeing a corresponding increase in the acuity of patients’ conditions. They are coming to us sicker. The result is a much shorter time for nurses to connect with their patients. Patients come to us expecting that all caregivers are competent and skilled. It’s up to us, as nurses, to give them a sense of control and make them feel that we care for them as a whole person. This personal connection is what sets a great nurse apart from a good nurse.

Another peril challenging nurses is the overpowering focus on caring for others while forgetting to care for themselves. That’s where a supportive work environment is vital to assuring the well-being of all of its employees. That’s what I love about Methodist Health System. We have a multifaceted program to care for the caregiver.

  • We encourage nurses to be healthy so we promote good nutrition, regular exercise, and an overall healthy lifestyle through on-site classes and fitness centers.
  • We strive for each nurse to achieve a healthy work/life balance. Nurses have to be able to “empty their bucket,” meaning they have to develop a good balance away from the workplace by focusing on family and hobbies.
  • We commit to providing the resources necessary for every nurse to be able to accomplish the job. That means appropriate staffing and supplies.
  • We encourage “me” time at work. Nursing can be stressful so it’s important for them to have opportunities to take short breaks, or grab a bite of lunch -– even if it’s brief.
  • We provide continuing education to keep nurses up-to-date on their skills and knowledge.
  • We allow self-scheduling so nurses can try to plan work shifts which balance with their lifestyle needs.
  • We round with staff, continually talking to them about their needs.

At Methodist, we are very aware of the perils that nurses can encounter and we go the extra mile to support them in their noble mission of caring for our patients. As leaders in the organization, it is our responsibility to model and mentor the relationship we want our staff to have with each other.

If I were a nurse looking for a new place to practice, I would network with others and I would do my homework, visiting websites and getting input from current staff at the hospitals in which I am interested. I might even visit a hospital and walk down the hall to get a feel for the environment and the culture. See if someone says, “Can I help you find something?” I have done this before and have actually decided to avoid the perils of that hospital by not going to work there.

If you’re looking for a supportive work environment, then it’s time to choose Methodist. Learn more by visiting Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.

© Methodist Health System

EOE/MF/D/V

Posted Career Advancement, Nurses, Patient Care