It is the one in the house who knows where the roof leaks.
~ African proverb ~
This beautiful African Proverb says it all! Nurses are the ones who know where the roof leaks in healthcare because they are the ones who are physically there. I’d like to share three key points from a poll described in my book Nurses Matter, published by Forbes, 2022. When asked for their thoughts about why healthcare is failing them and their patients, this is what nurses said:

Staffing shortages are critical and the main reason healthcare is failing. Patients suffer because they can’t get quality care from their nurses; this is not a secret and is clearly out of nurses’ control. Luckily for our cause and movement, some things in healthcare are transparent, and this reality is transparent. The situation speaks for itself. Insufficient staffing at work is a significant reason for the frustration that many nurses experience at work.

Many nurses feel they have no control over their work and their careers. Feeling out of control and disempowered at work is understandable for some in the current nursing environment. Still, I was shocked to see how many nurses feel out of control of their careers. It appears some nurses have experienced a loss of trust in their organizations, leading to questions about what it means for their future. What career would I pursue if the workload here became so difficult that I wanted to leave? Where should I look to be hired when so many organizations are still cutting nurses? What if I struggle to get a job in an organization the way healthcare is going? Can I really trust this job offer? Are they being entirely honest about describing the work environment? How will my future career as a nurse work out for me during such general uncertainty in healthcare?

Many nurses are experiencing guilt at work. This guilt has nothing to do with them or how they perform their jobs. Due to insufficient support, some nurses feel guilty about taking breaks during the workday, which may interrupt patient care. Shame about being unable to care for a patient is a significant burden nurses carry with adverse effects on the nurse psyche.

I share these main points to show you that you are not alone if you are battling similar feelings about your job. These are reasons why compassion fatigue and burnout rates are rising.I want you to know that there is help on the horizon. Nurse leaders are working hard to communicate to organizations that nurses cannot continue to provide care without sufficient help and support. The wheel is turning in the right direction, and there is hope.

In the meantime, if things become unmanageable or overwhelming, speak to your charge nurses, leader, or HR to let them know how you feel. You do not have to carry this alone. Help is out there, and they don’t want to lose you. Practice self-care and know your professional boundaries. Remember, you never have to accept an assignment if you are not equipped to do so. This is about patient safety first and foremost; you’re advocating for your patient and yourself when you know your limits and stick to them.

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