8 Challenging Aspects of Being A Nurse

Nursing is a highly fulfilling and remarkable career for passionate healthcare workers. Nevertheless, there are many challenging aspects of being a nurse.

For instance, nurses must endure the physical demands of moving heavy equipment, standing for extended periods, and assisting patients with physical tasks.

They must also manage countless mental and emotional experiences day-to-day while maintaining compassion and professionalism.

This article covers numerous challenges nurses face every day to help you better understand how essential and brave these medical professionals are.

1. Physically Demanding Profession

Many nurses work in physically demanding environments.

They are responsible for providing bedside care, including assisting patients with movement, exercise, and various physical tasks.

Although providing patient care is very rewarding, it does take a physical toll on hard-working healthcare professionals.

Nurses must also handle medical equipment, which is heavy and difficult to move in some cases.

It includes everything from diagnostic equipment to wheelchairs, stretchers/mobile beds, and personal items like a stethoscope or BP cuff.

Finally, registered nurses work long shifts caring for others and managing numerous rooms.

Healthcare workers are estimated to walk 2 – 5 miles per shift on a given day.

As a result, nurses must invest in high-quality footwear and premium insoles to mitigate stress and strain on their feet, legs, and backs.

Even then, long-standing sessions are stressful for the body and add up over time.

2. Long Work Days

In addition to spending long periods standing/walking, most registered nurses work extended hours during their scheduled shifts.

Some nurses work 8-hour shifts, especially at a doctor’s office or community center.

However, it’s not uncommon for registered nurses to work 10, 12, or even 16-hour workdays in a hospital setting, not including overtime or mandatory work due to staffing shortages.

Nurses who work longer shifts typically work fewer days but still put in 40+ hours each week.

Nevertheless, the more extended workdays are mentally, emotionally, and physically demanding.

It requires nurses to remain on their feet, lift heavy objects/people, handle diagnostic equipment, and manage difficult situations longer than other professions.

As a result, many nurses spend their days off recovering, recuperating, and managing personal errands.

The additional days off don’t provide extra free time because nurses work 40+ hours weekly.

Instead, their time is allocated differently by having them work long shifts on their workdays.

3. Required Weekend & Holiday Shifts

Any nurse who works at a 24/7 facility like a hospital or long-term care facility is familiar with working on weekends and holidays.

Unlike other professions, nurses don’t have the luxury of taking these days off.

At least, not all the time.

Nurses who wish to have a particular weekend or holiday off must schedule it in advance if it isn’t already on their schedule.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that their request will be accepted, especially in busy settings with a staffing shortage.

Nurses who work at a doctors/physician’s office or healthcare center with set hours have more flexibility if the office/center closes for those days/holidays.

The doctor/physician or nurse practitioner may own the office and control its operating hours.

Besides that, part-time, travel nurses and per diem nurses with set schedules may also have more flexibility.

That is, assuming they’ve negotiated their schedule terms in advance.

For most other nurses working at a 24/7 facility, their schedule will include working weekends and holidays.

4. Managing Difficult Patients

Nurses spend long workdays helping a broad spectrum of patients recover from medical conditions in diverse healthcare settings.

In some cases, nurses assist grateful and pleasant patients who require medical care and are happy to be tended to by their nurse.

In other cases, nurses deal with rowdy, argumentative, and sometimes violent patients with unrealistic demands.

Being a healthcare professional is an enriching and fulfilling career for those who want to help others live their best lives.

However, this career has its share of challenging individuals and situations.

Nurses must be able to be compassionate when things get tough.

They must also know when to make difficult decisions when a patient is out of line or posing a threat.

5. Feeling Undervalued

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with various tasks, patients, and situations in busy healthcare settings.

Putting out fires with little time to rest, managing emotional patients, and consistently responding to diverse work demands can be exhausting.

Unfortunately, some healthcare environments expect nurses to unfailingly work at a high level without much recognition and gratitude.

Over time this causes burnout and loss of passion for their work.

It also leads nurses to feel undervalued due to a lack of recognition for their dedication and sacrifice.

Of course, there are work settings that provide nurses with excellent support.

However, burnout and feeling undervalued are more common than most nurses want, and it’s important to point out.

6. Office Politics

Most healthcare workers concentrate on advancing their careers and providing exceptional patient care.

Unfortunately, hospital politics exist in nursing and the healthcare system, as with most jobs.

Politics range from who gets ideal work shifts to how specific tasks should be managed and delegated.

Not all facilities have these frustrating politics, but some departments and healthcare centers are difficult for nurses.

It all comes down to how a hospital, office, or healthcare facility treats and manages its employees.

Strict policies on fairness, equality, and avoiding preferential treatment are necessary to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Moreover, healthcare workers need to feel supported and confident about sharing personal feelings and opinions.

Facilities that meet the demands of their employees have the best opportunities to maintain a smooth, happy and efficient work environment.

Every place has office politics and a unique employee atmosphere.

However, it’s imperative to ensure employees feel respected and treated appropriately in healthcare, where countless lives are on the line.

7. Exposure to Germs and Viruses

Nurses work in highly infectious environments where germs are commonplace.

Because they’re responsible for assisting patients suffering from viruses, they face constant exposure to viruses and infections.

Healthcare professionals have safety gear in well-stocked hospitals, clinics, and offices.

However, constant exposure to various illnesses does leave nurses at risk of sickness or cross-contamination.

Improper usage of safety gear creates possibilities for germs, viruses, fluids, and contaminants to skin or open areas and causes an infection.

In addition, it produces opportunities for nurses to bring viruses home and expose others to unexpected illnesses.

Those in healthcare facilities must use safety equipment diligently and take the necessary precautions to prevent exposure to viruses, germs, and harmful chemicals.

8. Encountering Loss and Hopelessness

As a nurse, there are many rewarding experiences when a patient recovers from an illness, disease, or injury.

These are the moments that remind nurses why they choose their careers.

Nonetheless, some experiences are difficult to handle and even traumatic for nurses.

Not every patient has a happy ending.

In some circumstances, patients don’t make it home to see their family and friends.

Nurses must cope with grief and loss while remaining professional.

It’s not easy to suppress emotions when they cannot save someone or make positive gains.

Nevertheless, they must maintain compassion in hard times and put personal feelings aside to ensure patients receive adequate care.

Experiencing loss or feeling hopeless at times is one of the countless challenging aspects of being a nurse.

It takes a toll on everyone regardless of how long they’ve been working in healthcare.

Regardless, many nurses find the positives of working in healthcare and appreciate the emotional fulfillment of saving lives!