Current Issue and Plan of Action Paper

Nurses are natural helpers and caregivers, and they need to keep themselves strong and in balance, in order to help others. Patient care is quite stressful and takes a toll on nurses unless they learn how to manage the pressure. Nurses spend hours with sets of patients and as a result, get the opportunity for a closer and deeper connection. Being compassionate and reducing suffering comes at a cost for us nurses. The desire to help renders nurses vulnerable to depletion, stress and fatigue. When nurses are stressed, they potentially place their patients in harm’s way if they do not deal with the stress appropriately. Errors are bound to be made when nurses are stressed, burned out, fatigued or ill (Noelker, Ejaz, Menne, & Jones, 2006).

Stressed workers do not perform well in their duties. This leads to low turnover and poor patient satisfaction. Long-term stress can also lead to chronic illnesses and depression posing a threat particularly on the nurse and the patient if appropriate measures are not sort. Workload, leadership or management style, socioeconomic, professional conflict with staff and patients and the emotional cost of caring are the leading sources of distress among nurses for years but their magnitude of impact cannot be quantified. Lack of proper reward schemes and shift working is now displacing some of the other issues in order of ranking. Nurses should be supported better but a lack of proper understanding of how different sources of stress vary between work/practice areas; lack of dependable assessment tools and a lack of understanding of how workplace factors and personal factors interact are hindrances.

The major focus for stress intervention measures should be on stress prevention for individuals, and tackling organizational issues. This can be achieved by employing further comparative studies and tools to evaluate the intensity of stress on an individual basis. With reference to the John Walker's successful claim against his employer, Northumberland County Council, for stress, employers are now reassessing their employee’s liability. The damages awarded focused on the issues of stress (Wunderlich, Sloan, & Davis, 1996).  

It is the responsibility of employers for the health, safety and welfare of their staff. Many have, however, chosen not to take the issues of stress seriously. Some employers deal with the issue of organizational stress by counseling or holding stress seminars and stress management sessions for workers. Only a minority of organizations and institutions have focused their attention on removing the primary cause of stress. For employees suffering from occupational stress, they can expect extreme difficulty in their pursuit to win a claim for damages against their employers. This case (Walker’s) highlighted a number of important issues in relation to stress and the law. It helped to clarify fundamental points like if the employer is expected to notice stress related mental illnesses among his or her employees.

Nurses routinely handle patients who are delirious, agitated, and even aggressive; this is common in psychiatric units, in EDs, and in nursing homes (Coogle, Parham, & Young, 2007). When agitation escalates, nurses are often the victims of violence. Nurses who are physically assaulted on the job chose either to talk to a colleague afterward, and only few file a formal report. Nurse should have the capabilities to identify or recognize and defuse potential conflict before they erupt into full blown violence (verbal or physical). Every nurse has a responsibility to report any form of abuse or stress. In addition, they are expected to have the capacity to deal with stressful conditions. The administration, on the other hand, has the responsibility of adhering to standards that guarantee a safe environment for both patients and medical workers. Patients must also learn and understand their responsibilities.

The plan of action should involve a stress audit to identify all potential workplace stressors identify stress related problems such as high absenteeism among nurses. The organization should, in addition, have a “stress policy” or guideline to be followed in case the staff is stressed, for example, referrals to specialists or elimination of the stressor (Noelker, Ejaz, Menne, & Jones, 2006). Efforts should also be made to provide an environment that encourages staff to seek assistance in case stressed in any way.

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