A new public radio documentary, “Resilient Nurses,” which gives an in-depth look at many of the challenges RNs face and how they deal with stress, is available to hear online or download.
The documentary is part of the Humankind radio series, which is distributed worldwide by National Public Radio.
In the healthcare system, nurses outnumber physicians 6 to 1, and RNs spend more time in the direct care of patients, according to an article by the radio series’ host David Freudberg. “Resilient Nurses” addresses many difficult issues in the field, such as a projected staff shortage, long shifts and an increasing number of patients with complex conditions.
A large group of RNs are nearing retirement age, which will contribute to the shortage, but other RNs are leaving the practice citing reasons including burnout, unhealthy workplaces, exhaustion and emotional distress. Even though most RNs in four states reported being satisfied with the scheduling practices at their hospitals, nurses working shifts of 10 hours or longer were 2.5 times more likely than RNs working shorter shifts to experience burnout and job dissatisfaction and to decide to leave the profession. according to a study in Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed journal. The same study also found as a higher percentage of RNs work 13-plus hour shifts, patients were less satisfied with the quality of care.
In the two-part NPR documentary, RNs in many settings describe the challenges they face.
“If you’re doing 10- or 12-hour shifts, you know, it’s brutal on your legs,” Marion Tinsley, BSN, RN, a nurse at the VA hospital in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, said in the documentary. “You go home, you hear the cardiac bells in your head. I would hear that for like two hours, you know, driving home … It took at least two hours for the dinging to stop in my head.”
The second part of the documentary includes inspiring stories of RNs who use self-care techniques to help manage their stress.
“You get your schedule, and see how many patients you’re going to see, and your day starts to get a little harried,” Rose Hosler, a board-certified holistic RN and reiki practitioner at Cleveland Clinic, said in the documentary. “And I’ll just pause, and I’ll think to myself, ‘I am just grateful. I’m just grateful that I’m here, and in the presence of wonderful people.’ Thinking of that throughout the day really helps me.”
The documentary also features the Cleveland Clinic’s Healing Services unit, which provides RNs and other healthcare workers with extra support in times of stress.
Download or listen to “Resilient Nurses.” The documentary also includes links to self-care resources and a free, guided relaxation exercise RNs can download and share with colleagues.