When nurses are healthy, they are perceived as more credible by patients and are more likely to counsel their patients on healthy behavior, said Holly Carpenter, BSN, RN, here at the Rheumatology Nurses Annual Conference.
However, “in most categories, registered nurses’” health is less than that of the average American, said Carpenter, who is the interim director of program operations, nursing practice and innovation of the American Nurses Association (ANA). Nurses have a higher level of stress and get less sleep than the average American.
“Health care delivery is a 24/7 job, so the demands of shift work exacerbate the health of nurses,” she said. Nurses also face hazards, such as bullying, patient handling that can lead to injury, unhealthy chemicals, needlestick injuries and exposure to infectious diseases. However, Carpenter, said a nurse who chooses to focus on self-care is perceived as being self-centered.
Carpenter presented the ANA’s Health Risk Appraisal data for 2013 to 2016. According to the survey, the top work hazards are workplace stress, lifting/repositioning heavy objects, prolonged standing, needlestick injuries and other sharp injuries, and blood-borne pathogens.
At 82%, workplace stress in nursing is twice the average of the rest of the American population.
In addition, almost half of nurses reported they had been bullied by a peer and one in four have been physically assaulted at work.
“In 2015, ANA came out zero-tolerance policy for violence of any kind and that includes bullying,” Carpenter said.
Only 16% of nurses eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, according to the survey. Carpenter reported that nurses perform equally poor in regard to whole grain recommendations.
“We are getting almost 2 hours less sleep than the average American,” Carpenter said.
On average, nurses are overweight with a BMI of 27.6 kg/m2.
Carpenter shared some good news — 94% nurses reported they do not smoke and 91% have received the seasonal flu vaccine in the past 12 months.
“To reflect on the survey results, you can see we need help,” Carpenter said. “Healthier nurses mean 3.6 million healthier Americans.”
To that end, ANA Enterprise launched the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) Grand Challenge on May 1. The HNHN Grand Challenge seeks to engage nurses on three levels — individual, organizational and interpersonal, and to improve health in five key areas — activity, rest, nutrition, quality of life and safety, she said.
Nurses can go to the website, create a profile and join the HNHN Grand Challenge. After setting up a profile and filling out the survey, a nurse will receive a heatmap of the results and a toolbox of resources to assist the individual nurse to make successful, healthy changes.
“We want to create a healthy nursing population,” Carpenter said. “You can be the best nurse you can be when you are healthy.”– by Joan-Marie Stiglich, ELS
Photo Credit: Medscape