ICN Position Analysis
The International Council of Nurses position statement regarding shift work states the recognition of need for shift work, as well as concern about the negative impact on nurses and patient care. This statement believes shift work should take several factors into consideration including patient care as this could be jeopardized by errors due to shift work; along with the need to protect and promote nurses health and well- being. The position makes clear promoting taking steps to make changes and adequately evaluate the outcomes. Included in the statement is an affirmation that nurses must be educated and aware of the possible professional, and occupational hazards of shift work so nurses may contribute to policy making. I believe this is of the utmost importance as I see nurses suffering from shift work difficulties, yet I do not believe those nurses are fully aware of the implications to themselves, their families and their patients. The ICN supports obtaining information on these issues, along with strategies to cope; and assisting national nurses associations to advocate for nurses to achieve the outcomes of healthy nurses, and optimal patient care. I believe this is highly relevant in today’s nursing practice and for the future of nursing around the world. If national nurses associations and healthcare leaders followed the position statement guidelines and truly advocated and took seriously this matter, there are a number of guidelines to reduce the hazards of shift work. Shift work is not optional in health care, but the impact may be reduced through the efforts and education of nurses and nursing organizations. I believe this statement is a serious and important step toward protecting and enhancing nurses and their personal health. However, it is obvious from the obstacles faced this is a challenging and difficult task. Optimally, and according to this position statement, shift patterns and staffing mix using recommended strategies can and will improve conditions for everyone. I am a strong patient and nurse advocate and while I cannot diminish the importance of optimal patient care, and typically place it as the top priority, I believe and support this statement as recognizing that without optimally healthy nursing staff, optimal patient care and outcomes are less likely. One cannot exist without the other; they are coexistent. Importance for Nurses
A healthy nurse has the potential to provide optimal patient care, education, advocacy, mentoring, teaching, and support for nursing staff as well as the rest of the medical team. Studies have shown negative health effects from disruption of the circadian rhythm related to shift work. One such study (Davis, 2001) has shown a 60 % increase in the incidence of breast cancer among grave yard shift workers. “Increased accident rates and decreased productivity are often associated with night work. As a result of the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl nuclear power station incidents, as well as other well-publicized nighttime accidents, the news media have focused increasingly on the dangers of a chronically fatigued and sleep-deprived workforce in the health care, transportation, and nuclear power industries.” (Alward, 2005) Dr. Orfeu Buxton from the Harvard Medical School states studies have shown shift workers to have a higher probability for obesity or diabetes. (The Lamp, 2012) Pick a body system and you can find literature to suggest higher risk to shift workers. I also feel shift work is highly associated with factory work and thus may diminish the professionalism view of nursing among the general public. Along with that thought is why do nurses seek higher and higher education levels to work like factory workers? Some positions I’ve seen while recently applying for jobs indicate the need for a MSN for rotating shifts. This issue is of critical importance to the health and well- being of...
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