Work Stress in the Nursing Field Causes and Repercussions

Nursing homes can be places where it’s normal for staff to not be fully trained in their duties. To cut costs, many hire as few staff as they think they can get away with, causing those remaining to be overworked. This causes higher than necessary stress levels.

Problems on the Medication Run

The average amount of time it can take for a nurse to make what’s called a “medication run” through a nursing facility might take from two to four hours. Not all patients will be cooperative. Many will be suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, meaning they either no longer understand why they have to have medication, or are unable to give a proper identification of themselves to home personnel. Nursing Home personnel are often rushed and neglect to take the extra time for double-checking the identity of a patient.


Most nurses will self-report a medication error to their supervisors. This allows for prompt treatment of the affected patient. There have been cases, however, where the home ignores the error and fails to give proper follow-up treatment, often causing the death of the patient.

Sometimes the matter is as simple as the person dispensing the medication not understanding the way the medication is supposed to be given, or at what intervals. It might be that the medication is a new drug the person is not knowledgeable about. Or the home simply doesn’t have the proper procedures in place for administering certain medications.

Dealing With Work Stress for Nurses

There are some simple steps nursing home staff can take to help them deal with work stress, one being as simple as a change in outfit. Replacing old, worn-out scrubs with a new set can be a mood booster. Getting new shoes can also help. Aching feet and legs have always been known to be a major contributor to a poor attitude or job performance.

Staff needs to break out of the mold of going to work and going home or going to a bar to consume alcohol. Taking a class or participating in some sort of group activity can help a person break out of a stifling routine and refresh the mind. Instead of heading to the bar, get together to play a board or card game.

Self Care is Not Selfish

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Especially after spending 8 or 10 hours a day caring for others, people can forget to take care of themselves. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, either. It can be quiet time knitting, reading a book, or listening to music. It could also be a massage or getting your nails done.

Though it can be a difficult step for many, turning to someone else, a friend or a professional, is another self-care step to keep in mind. It’s not necessary to meet in person. Video chatting has become more popular during this time when people have had to socially isolate themselves.

A Few Other Options

Some other self-care options are to buy yourself a healthy smoothie for a treat, or bring a healthy snack from home – nuts, cheese, fruit, etc. If finding time to cook is an issue, consider using a meal kit delivery service. Don’t forget to keep up with your annual exams with your doctor.

Don’t call your coworkers after you clock out. Keeping your home life separate from your work life can be a big stress reliever.

Don’t Talk About Work on Your Break

If you sit with others from your unit for lunch or breaks, try to talk about something other than work. Get to know your coworkers as someone other than that person you work with. If you go in on a food order with others or by yourself, take extra care to order a healthy meal. Pizza is fast and convenient but should be kept to a minimum.

Some of the causes of medication errors come from the stress levels of the workers. This can come from chronic staffing shortages to inadequate training. Making time to do a little self-care can help reduce the stress. Reduced stress means a person is thinking more clearly and is less likely to make a mistake.