In this intimate conversation between Keith and Elizabeth (Kevin was en absentia for episode 184—were his ears burning?), our hosts delve into what’s been on their mind vis-a-vis nurses and nursing. The conversation revolved around a number of key topics and talking points that sparked the conversation; that list includes:
- Nurses’ workload
- Nurses’ lack of control at work
- The notion of the underappreciation of nurses (specifically by administration and employers)
- Nurses’ career dissatisfaction
- The need to stay aware of changes at work, in the healthcare industry, and in the profession
- Healthcare organizations and employers needing to walk their talk
- The emotional labor of nursing
- How to keep one’s finger on the pulse of the profession and one’s career
- The shifting sands of healthcare: downsizing, hospital consolidation, a tight job market, etc
Wikipedia defines “emotional labor” thus:
Emotional labor or emotion work is a requirement of a job that employees display required emotions toward customers or others. More specifically, emotional labor comes into play during communication between worker and citizen and between worker and worker. This includes analysis and decision making in terms of the expression of emotion, whether actually felt or not, as well as its opposite: the suppression of emotions that are felt but not expressed. Roles that have been identified as requiring emotional labor include but not limited to those involved in public administration, flight attendant, daycare worker, nursing home worker, nurse, doctor, store clerk, call center worker, teacher, social worker, as well as most roles in a hotel, motel, tavern/bar/pub and restaurant, as well as jobs in the media, such as TV and radio. As particular economies move from a manufacturing to a service-based economy, many more workers in a variety of occupational fields are expected to manage their emotions according to employer demands when compared to sixty years ago.
Once they were able to elucidate some of the central struggles being faced by nurses in 2016, Elizabeth and Keith discussed how nurses must enumerate their options, especially when they feel stuck, trapped, or caught in a box, whether that box is or isn’t of their own making.
Finally, Elizabeth offered a capstone thought, reflecting on the idea that you cannot fully internalize the appreciation of others until you can fully appreciate yourself. (If Kevin had been present, his brain would have melted at this point in the show.)
In terms of coping, a number of self-care measures were discussed, including massage (bodywork, Reiki, etc), the conscious pursuit of leisure time and fun, support groups, psychotherapy and counseling, coaching, and other endeavors that can help to promote a sense of balance, well-being and perspective.
Finally, the following articles were referenced during the show, and we offer the links here for your edification.
- Innovation Starts With The Heart, Not The Head (Harvard Business Review, June 2015)
- When Nurses Need Nursing: The Toll Of Emotional Labor (Medscape, May 2014)
- Nurses More Stressed By Being Undervalued Than By Workload (BBC News, December 2015)
- Feeling Valued Helps Nurses Control Stress Levels (Cambridge Network, UK (January 2016)
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