Nurses, Here’s How to Avoid Workplace Injuries
Nursing can be risky business.
Like many public servants, nurses put everything — mind, body, and soul — into their work, which means sometimes the work takes a toll. It isn’t uncommon for nurses to leave a 12-hour shift feeling totally exhausted from lifting patients and being on their feet, but that’s easily fixed with sufficient rest and proper nutrition. Less easy to overcome are workplace injuries. Nurses, more than most professionals, risk hurting themselves on the job given the physicality of their work.
We care about our nursing students and every nurse in the world who is working to keep others healthy. Because almost every nursing specialty can be at risk, all nurses should follow these five steps to avoid workplace injuries.
1. Take care of yourself
Research has found that keeping yourself healthy can keep you safe at work. Sleep deprivation, poor exercise habits, and bad nutrition adversely affect your body — even if you aren’t required to move heavy patients and move throughout a hospital for 12 hours straight, as nurses are. You need to eat and sleep well and keep your heart and muscles strong in any industry, but especially nursing. Working too many overtime shifts or starting your rotation already exhausted will heighten your risk of workplace injury, so before anything else: Take care of yourself.
Related Resource: Taking Care of YOU: 10 Health Tips for Healthcare Students
2. Rely on your fellow nurses
A recent study from NYU discovered that newly licensed nurses are likelier to be injured at work than their experienced peers. Part of the increase in sprains, strains, and needlesticks is due to new nurses working more overtime and weekend shifts, which interfere with sleep. Depending on your workplace, this may be inevitable, but you can still prioritize your health, even as you’re working difficult hours.
Another reason is simpler: New nurses lack experience and have less practice meeting the physical demands of the job. This is unavoidable, since you can only gain experience over time. You can, however, rely on your fellow nurses for advice and assistance, asking peers to demonstrate safe techniques and assist you with difficult patients.
Related Resource: The Best Advice for Dealing with Angry Patients
3. Don’t rush
As more findings have linked certain duties and procedures to specific workplace injuries, more safety measures and features have been implemented. Always remember that safe technology is made to help you, not to burden you with more tasks. Even if you feel stressed and crunched for time, don’t circumvent safety features just to save a few seconds. Be thoughtful as you move patients, being mindful of your body and the right movements to keep yourself (and your patient) safe.
4. Use your benefits
You learned it in school: People need preventative care, which means everybody, not just your patients who ignored that chest pain for too long. Even nurses should schedule annual checkups with their provider, just to ensure they’re healthy enough to keep others healthy. You can forget to care for yourself when you’re so focused on taking care of others, but you should take advantage of all the benefits your health insurance offers instead of relying on your own health assessments.
5. Stay educated
Nursing is a changing field, and if you’ve worked as a nurse for years you’ve seen many changes in procedures and best practices. It’s critical for you to continue learning not just how to do your job, but how to do your job safely. Attend lectures and safety demonstrations when they’re offered, and if you haven’t yet earned your BSN degree, look into programs to further your education. Among other things, The Future of Nursing Report found that a baccalaureate education doesn’t just qualify you for more nursing positions … it makes you a better nurse. Continuing to learn throughout your nursing career will keep you working at your best, and keep you safe along the way.
Related Resource: What the Future of Nursing Report Says About the BSN
At Ameritech, we’re nurses teaching nurses, so we know the risks firsthand. We work to prepare all of our RN and BSN students for a successful career, and workplace safety is a huge part of that. To learn more about our online RN-BSN degree completion curriculum, reach out to us! We’d love to hear from you.