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The #1 stressful thing about being a nurse


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So, we all know there are a million things that ‘stress’ us out during our shifts. Do I really need to list them? Here are just a few that come to mind:


Causes of Stress

  • Inadequate staffing
  • Nurse-to-staff ratio overload (does the word unsafe come to mind)
  • Lack of teamwork
  • Lack of effective and fair management
  • Coworker strain
  • Paperwork
  • Endless charting – repeating information on multiple forms
  • Miscommunication or the lack of communication
  • Census overload and strain (revolving door of admissions and discharges)
  • No time to even use the bathroom

Seriously, this list is endless. I believe some of it is just part of the job and is ultimately our innate responsibility we have to accept. While others are things that just do not make for a pleasant shift. With all the ga-zillion things that can and do increase the stress level at work, what do you think is the #1 stressful thing about being a nurse?

What is the one thing we nurses pride ourselves on? Or better yet, what is the one characteristic of all nurses that is virtually required to survive and succeed in this profession?


We nurses need to be in control of the didactic (no matter what that is). When we lose that control our stress level skyrockets. We will frantically change the game and do everything possible to get that control back.

For instance, when the revolving door of admissions and discharges hits,  that ‘illusion’ of control goes out the door (so to speak). We will scurry around the unit prepping and intervening to make sure we gain some sense of control so that we can complete our day.

How much control do you think we attain when staffing is short?

It’s all about that time management thing we all love to hate. When we lose ‘control’ of time. I think that’s the key. If we can stay on top of and maintain some sense of control over our time and how it is used we can trudge through the rest. I mean we all know we start and end our day behind the 8-ball no matter how perfect the shift goes. Chasing our tail is not fun.

Maybe it’s just me, but even if I have the ‘illusion’ of being in control it reduces my stress level greatly.There ya go. Maybe I just need to start ‘believing’ that I’m in control? Although I just don’t think that will be enough sometimes.

Anyone else? What do you think is the #1 stressful thing about being a nurse? What trumps the loss of control in your opinion?

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