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Feeling stressed? At least you don't defuse bombs for a living...


Long shifts, no breaks, not enough time to think of a sandwich, much less eat it - that’s the lot of a nurse. But Beyond the Bedpan’s not one to moan - you put your feet up and tell us how your week’s been

Are we back here again? Seems all you lot want to do is talk about how stressed you all are and how hard you work. Actually, we suppose you’re right to be a little concerned this week after reading stories like “Stressed nurses’ heart attack risk revealed”, “Heart disease linked to overtime” and ““Nurses age three times quicker than other professions ”.

OK, maybe we made the last one up, but it’s only a matter of time before a study proves it.

So what can you do to combat all this stress and *whispers* hard work? A bubble bath? Some relaxing whale music? Perhaps a stiff drink? A group yoga session in the park?

Well it’s not far off. One article suggested that taking a leisurely walk at lunch might help you to relax. You seemed to think the author was living in la la land. One bemused reader asked: “When would a ward nurse ever get the time or chance to take a brisk walk at lunch? Half the time we don’t even get lunch”. Another thought that exercise was a little low down on the list of priorities: “Erm if I’m lucky enough to get a full 30mins I need to eat love…not walk; I’ve been doing that all flipping morning on the ward!”

Just how stressful is being a nurse? Less stressful than a bomb disposal expert? More stressful than a chocolate taster?

Online ranking site shareranks has a comprehensive list that we feel sheds some light on the matter. It ranks nursing as number eight on its list. Just above the President of the United States.

Interestingly, being a “murse” - which is what male nurses are called, apparently - only makes it to number 14.

But never mind just feeling the stress of your shift, it seems that most of you can’t agree on how long these stressful shifts should be to begin with. It appears this is a topic that just won’t, erm, finish it’s shift.

One commenter said: “A mixture of early, late and day shifts in one week, with night shifts thrown in at random, do nothing for our health and wellbeing, never mind the work life balance.” Another agreed: “Sleep days should be re-introduced, it is soul destroying to finish nights on Monday morning and have that as your day off.”

One person asked the £50 question: “If nurses and students are working like dogs are they able to provide the highest quality of care to their patients?”

So nurses and murses, is it more important that staff are happy and healthy or that patients are looked after properly? Can you have one without the other?

Beyond the Bedpan has it easy, of course, we breeze into Nursing Times Towers once a week, spew some words onto the internet and then flounce off to have a G&T and a sit down. But we think we’re alone.

Long shifts, overtime, emotionally and physically draining work, ever increasing workloads and more and more responsibility take their toll. How can you be good at your job when you’ve got all that to deal with?

But at least one person has their priorities right. “Some of these comments are pathetic and so badly written as to be incomprehensible. This reflects on the image of the entire nursing profession and many of those working in it.”

Smarten up your act, nurses, it doesn’t matter if you’re knackered and in bad health. Always spell-check.


Readers' comments (15)

  • I love beyond the bedpan!
    I don't want to defuse bombs but at least bomb disposal experts don't have to defuse bombs for their entire shift. How often do bomb disposal experts have to defuse bombs anyway? Once, twice, three times a year?
    I defuse bombs every day at work, 12 hours at a time....... or people may die!!!

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  • Hmm tell that to the guys in Afganistan

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  • I wonder if it's all about work life balance. I work on an elderly admissions unit, it's very busy and stressful, and sometimes I want to cry. I've been managing the beds for the past month due to a broken finger, and I have nightmares about it, regularly! However, I recently spent 2 years not being a nurse, and realise how lucky I am to do a job I love so much. I also have a very fulfilling social life, and a hobby I also love (I skydive) - and I love my life, and don't feel stressed, but maybe that's because I don't feel my job, with it's stresses, is my whole life. That's all.

    Also, big up Beyond the Bedpan, along with Nursing USA, the only articles (not just in nursing) I never miss out on.

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  • I work in a London trauma centre. The work is long, hard and grueling - and I freakin' love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Screw bomb disposal and running a country! Mursing is top dog!

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  • Apologies in advance for any spelling errors - I do hate upsetting people. I'm afraid that I totally disagree with the individual who states that a few comments by fellow front line nurses will seen as reflecting an "image of the entire nursing profession and many of those working in it.” This is tongue in cheek stuff and should be read accordingly! I agree with April - we need more articles like Beyond the Bedpan - and we should learn not to take ourselves too seriously. Where would nursing be without our warped sense of humour. PS - any chance of some freelance work? and make mine a large!!

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  • UP beyond the bedpan! Bomb disposal experts rarely get blown up but my skills make a difference to patient survival EVERY day!

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  • I am a nurse and I work long frustrating shifts.
    I am also the mother of a young infantry soldier You may moan about your lot. You don't do your shift with a tourniquet on each limb, prepared for when they get blown off. Perhaps you should, either think again about your "dreadful" job or change career. Please think hard before you comment on the real HEROES of our nation.

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  • UP beyond the bedpan! Bomb disposal experts rarely get blown up but my skills make a difference to patient survival EVERY day!

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  • April. I'm glad you think so highly of yourself. I hope you think as highly of your patients - especially if you ever have the honour of nursing a young man with horrific blast injuries who's colleagues have patched him up and gone back to diffusing bombs - every single day - for months on end - despite seeing friends blown apart. We don't need to belittle the bravery of others to highlight the hard work and dedication of the nursing profession but to do so implies a lack of compassion and understanding. Well done Beyond the Bedpan for your 'sideways look' at issues, which provokes many of us all to look at our own practice.

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  • April Davies is so far out of order I wouldn't be surprised if her comments raised an eyebrow or two at the NMC as she is clearly using her position as a nurse to put forward her bizarre point of view in the public arena. Just how many times does a bomb disposal soldier need to get blown up to achieve parity with April's sorry lot?

    April - your comments disgust me, I hope that you get the opportunity to meet and get to know the victims of improvised explosive devices and then just maybe you might appreciate the bravery and professionalism of warriors who use their bravery and compassion with their lives rather than with a keyboard.

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