While work may often be simply a means to achieve status or material wealth, it carries with it the weight of stress, worry and anxiety which can often become overwhelming.
Commonly termed “occupational stress”, here we will describe its specific nature and highlight the fact that stress is associated with every profession to a certain degree. Just as it is inevitable that we will encounter stress in our everyday lives, it can never be totally eliminated from the workplace.
Professions that are particularly vulnerable to high levels of stress include those which are based upon caring for others, namely, social service professions such as, health workers, psychologists and teachers.
There are certain daily pressures that are associated with working in healthcare; the importance and magnitude of taking responsibility for human life, health rescue, and coming in contact with death and suffering on a daily basis. In addition, more mundane factors such as, staff shortages, excessive work load, defective equipment, healthcare reforms and inadequate pay are all combined, adding to the general stress levels of those working in healthcare. Moreover, the often negative or even hostile comments that emanate from the general public heap yet more pressure on the heads of those in the industry, not to mention the fact that the professions of doctors and nurses are becoming more and more devalued year by year.
Sources of stress for nurses
Nursing is one of the occupations in which there is exposure to a variety of stresses. Many of those issues are associated with patients, but not exclusively. Nurses are required to work closely with patients and their families in times of high emotional stress and tension, situations such as these can often be time-consuming and are not only confined to health problems. Nurses often have to deal with psychological and social problems as part of their everyday duties. Moreover, every patient and their families expect the full focus, commitment and efficient practice of their nurse.
Research has shown that the identifying factors that can make a healthcare professional more prone to stress are connected to the specific issues that they encounter. Particularly, the type of hospital ward and the illness they treat is a determining factor. Other features include: daily contact with illness, the need for constant attentiveness and the responsibility for informing other people involved in the situation.
Becoming aware of occupational stress and its adverse health effects, is only the first step in making the necessary changes that can bring it under control.