Stressed-out nurses complain of long hours, lack of respect

Nurses feel stressed out, unsupported by management and overburdened at work, according to a survey from the Vickie Milazzo Institute in Houston.

More than 3,300 survey nurses who responded to the survey said the biggest contributors to work-related stress included:

  • Long hours, lack of sleep and poor diet: Only 17 percent of survey respondents said they always get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation, combined with 12-hour shifts and night shifts, can affect sleeping patterns and cause physical problems, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Seventy-seven percent of nurses said they do not eat properly on a regular basis.

  • Lack of authority, support and respect: Seventy-five percent of respondents felt they don't have the authority they want in the workplace, while 89 percent said they are not in a position to delegate sufficiently because of lack of staff, apathetic bosses and co-workers, and an absence of teamwork. One nurse cited a "lack of respect and consideration from administration," as a main cause of stress.

  • Insufficient compensation: At an average annual wage of $55,203, just 16 percent of nurses felt they were fairly compensated, while 44 percent said they were fairly compensated but could use more remuneration. Iowa, Alabama, North Dakota, Kansas and Tennessee are states with particularly low wages, with mean income of $32,930 to $56,350, according to the survey.

This issue will become an even larger problem as the baby-boomer generation of nurses being to retire and young nurses start in the industry, Vickie Milazzo, president of the Institute, told the Houston Business Journal. "As (baby boomers) exit, there's going to be a huge nursing shortage unless healthcare facilities really do something to attract younger nurses," she said.

The study says hospitals can take simple steps to help manage RN stress:

  • Set realistic and humane work hours

  • Provide access to nutritious meals and snacks

  • Give RNs with experience the authority to do their jobs well

  • Allow long-time RNs a seat at the management table

  • Encourage a culture of mutual trust and respect

To learn more:
- here's the survey results
- read the article