While nursing does offer many advantages, there are disadvantages as well. Nursing is not easy, and can be very physically demanding. Long hours are often required and can sometimes be a mandatory part of work. Most nurses still participate in shift work, often having to work nights, weekends, and holidays as part of their jobs. While the benefits of choosing the nursing profession can be many, the disadvantages of the career must also be considered.
Many nurses work in physically-demanding areas, requiring them to lift and transfer patients. This can be very challenging for nurses, and does often lead to injury. Some nurses also work long hours. Twelve-hour shifts have become commonplace, especially in the hospital setting, and nurses are sometimes required to work overtime beyond their regularly-scheduled hours. These nurses also participate in what is known as shift work, working a specified shift during the day, evening, or night. These shifts run every day of the year, even on holidays and weekends, often requiring the nurse to be away from loved ones on holidays.
While the challenges of the nursing career are many, they must be weighed against the benefits to determine if nursing is an appropriate profession for any individual.
One of the disadvantages of the nursing profession is the physical demand that is placed on the nurse. Lifting is often a requirement of the job, and nurses may have to lift and transfer patients, as well as boxes and equipment, as a normal course of work. Nurses also work on their feet for many hours at a time, placing strain on their backs and causing sore feet. Nurses also have to work on charts, either written or at a computer, causing physical strain to necks and backs in this way as well. Though there are advantages to a career in the nursing profession, there are disadvantages that must be considered as well.
Nurses are often required to lift. This can include lifting patients, equipment, or boxes during the normal course of a day in the profession. Patients can sometimes be quite large, and may require two or more nurses to lift or transfer them. While there are lifting-assistance devices available at most facilities, they are sometimes cumbersome to utilize. The nurse may also not have the time to get the lifting device if the patient is in immediate danger of falling, and may need to use her own body to catch or lift falling patients to rescue them from injury. The use of lifting devices is said to help prevent injury among nurses and other healthcare workers, but their use is not practical in every situation. Nurses are still injured every day while attempting to assist their patients.
Another source of physical demand placed on the nurse during the course of a typical day is the necessity to work on her feet. While good shoes minimize discomfort, standing and walking for hours on end will make feet sore even with the best of shoes. Standing for hours also tends to place more strain on the nurse’s back, causing not just sore feet, but also low back pain. The need to stand for hours at a time without a break should be considered by those interested in a nursing career.
Nurses are required to maintain charts on their patients, and this is achieved either by handwriting in a chart or by utilizing a computer. While most hospitals now use computer charting almost exclusively, many nursing homes and other facilities still use paper charting. Using a computer for many hours can cause neck and back strain for the nurse. Arms and shoulders may tire after hours of hand charting. These are also necessary considerations for those interested in a nursing career.
While the advantages of the nursing career are many, there are still some disadvantages to consider. The physical demands placed on the nurse should be at the top of considerations for those interested in a nursing career.
Those considering a nurse career should remember that most nurses participate in what is known as shift work. Nurses now work long shifts, with many participating in ten- or twelve-hour shifts, especially in the hospital setting. When overtime becomes necessary, nurses may spend the better part of an entire day working at their job. Shift work also necessitates working hours that may not be preferred by most people, particularly evening and night shifts. Shift work also requires the nurse to work weekends and holidays, as the hospital is open all days of the year. While there are plenty of advantages to working as a nurse, there are disadvantages to be considered as well.
Many nurses now work extended shifts, usually ten or twelve hours at a time. This is particularly true in hospitals, but is also found in other areas of healthcare as well. After working a twelve-hour shift, the nurse may find that her scheduled replacement for the next twelve-hour shift has called in sick or is not available. The nurse is then required to work overtime until another nurse can be found to replace her. Nurses may spend most of a twenty-four-hour day at work, waiting for another nurse to be found to come in to work. These extended shifts can become quite unpleasant, as the nurse must continue to provide care to her patients even though she is quite tired.
Another aspect of shift work that should be considered is the need for nurses on evening and night shifts. While these nurses often earn a premium to work these shifts, they can still be quite difficult to handle for some people. Many people are not able to adjust well to working at night, and this should be considered by those interested in a nursing career since many new nurses are forced to take night shifts to get into their chosen specialty. Patients need care at all hours of the day and night, and nurses are required to be on shift and awake to care for them.
Those interested in the nursing profession should also consider that nurses work every day of the year. Hospitals are open year-round, and require nurses to be on staff on weekends and holidays. New nurses usually get the last choice of which holidays they will get off, and will usually start out working all of the major holidays. This can be a major disadvantage to a career in the nursing profession.
Shift work is an important consideration when deciding whether to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses work long hours on every shift and on every day of the year. This should be an important factor when deciding whether a nursing career is the right one for you.
Long Work Hours
When deciding if a nursing career is the right choice, long work hours should be a consideration. Many nurses are required to work well beyond their scheduled shifts, and are often required to work more than forty hours a week. When there are nursing shortages, nurses may work very long hours and may work these long hours many days a week. When deciding whether the profession of nursing is the right one for you, long working hours should be a factor in the decision.
Many nurses, especially in the hospital setting, work in areas of nursing shortages. When there are not enough nurses to fill shifts, the nurses that are already there are not able to leave. Nursing statutes mandate that a nurse cannot leave her patients without another nurse there to care for them or she will be guilty of abandonment. If a nurse has already worked a long shift, she may be required to stay even longer until a replacement nurse can be found. This can sometimes turn into a marathon shift for the nurse, requiring her to work many hours in a row. Nurses may be asked to work many shifts in a week as well, often well over the normal forty-hour work-week, until suitable nurses can be brought on shift.
While these scenarios do not happen often, they are always a possibility. Nurses should take seriously the responsibility of caring for their patients until another nurse can come on shift to relieve them. If no replacement can be found, that nurse is responsible for her patients until they are discharged from the hospital. No facility likes for this to happen, but the nurse does need to consider that it is something that may happen, and at some facilities, it happens often. The nurse is usually paid overtime for the hours worked, but the extra money is not always enough to offset the fatigue that will inevitably set in for the nurse.
When considering a nursing career, long working hours should be a factor. Most nurses do not have the luxury of working eight hour days. Most nurses work a minimum of ten to twelve hours on a shift and may be required to work much more if there are not enough nurses at her facility. During times of nursing shortages, nurses are often required to work long days with few days off in between. The disadvantage of long working hours should be a consideration of those interested in a nursing career.