As our patient population is living longer with more complex acute and chronic injuries and illnesses, we're exposed to anticipated and unanticipated stress each day. Anticipated stress can be caused by unhealthy professional relationships or work environments. Unanticipated stress may occur when you attempt to optimize a patient's declining clinical presentation in the face of unrealistic family expectations. In this issue, we take a look at toxic stress in children. As adults, we must also invest time in reducing our professional stress levels to a healthy balance. To start with, it's essential for us to work in an environment that embraces structural empowerment and prioritizes workplace satisfaction.
Structural empowerment encourages a partnership between nurses and the administrative team with a common goal to increase nursing autonomy that's guided by evidence-based practice (EBP) data. Ensuring that nursing interventions are grounded in EBP is directly linked to better patient outcomes, increased workplace satisfaction, and improved work-life balance—all of which can reduce our stress levels.
Shared decision-making fosters our control over our practice when possible, promotes teamwork, and boosts trust and workplace satisfaction. A constructive way to reduce professional stress is participation in organizational shared governance initiatives, such as unit-based councils, EBP committees, journal clubs, benchmarking taskforce teams, community outreach programs, and internal unit or organizational research workgroups. Shared governance initiatives give us a positive forum to share our clinical insights and ideas with key organizational decision-makers. For example, by participating in an organizational purchasing committee, you can provide valuable information about supplies and devices that you frequently use during daily tasks, ensuring that the most efficient items are selected.
Partner with your leadership team to launch shared governance initiatives and reduce the stress level within your clinical area by emulating the professional behavior you wish to see in others, including verbally recognizing peers for a job well done in a difficult situation and celebrating a peer's professional success such as graduation or obtaining a specialty certification. Currently, many of us are working with four generations in the workforce. When all four generations were recently polled to share why they liked working in their specialty area, they had a common response: “I know my nursing peers and my administrative team value me as a nurse, mentor, and teammate.” Share your appreciation of your new and experienced team members each week. Your positive comments can cause a ripple effect throughout your clinical area that lowers the stress level and strengthens professional relationships among your team members.
Regulate stress levels as you unlock your insightful inner voice and share solutions using a shared governance approach. Within each of us lies the solution to organizational problems or benchmark barriers. You can be the positive change agent who inspires your peers to continue asking, “How can we keep improving our amazing nursing profession?”
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