Summer Edition 2017

Welcome to our first edition! Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. Each quarter we will be focusing on topics that matter to you. This edition is all about stress!

We regularly hear from people saying they are stressed, personally and professionally, so we thought it was an important topic to look at and supply you with strategies to keep yourself healthy.
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Stress: What is it?
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As a nurse, midwife or student, demands placed on you in the workplace may increase your exposure and vulnerability to stress. We have a section of our website that looks at how stress presents itself and what you can do to offset it. 

Check it out at www.nmsupport.org.au/workplace/stress

If you are feeling stressed and would like to chat with someone you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877.

Feeling stressed? You aren’t alone
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By Kate Klingsporn

Kayla, a Melbourne nurse, shared her story with us. It may be an experience that many nurses and midwives around Australia can relate to. If you are feeling stressed, you can call our counsellors any time on 1800 667 877.

Kayla slipped her deep blue scrub shirt over her Adidas singlet and stepped into the corridor of the emergency department (ED). The lights were bright, the floor was clean. She was nervous. She hadn’t been a casual nurse for long, and it was her first ever shift in ED. Kayla walked into one of the busiest nights the department had experienced. Staff hurried as patients received care; a coordinated chaos. She was allocated three patients, one of whom was septic and deteriorating quickly. Unfamiliar with the system, she was unable to access the medication room.

“The other nurses on my team were busy and I was unaware of how the department worked. I found this extremely stressful as I was well out of my comfort zone, and I felt like I had neglected my other two patients due to the high acuity of this particular patient,” Kayla said. Kayla found an available nurse who she was able to seek assistance from, and her septic patient was transferred to Intensive Care.  

 

 

Kayla isn’t alone

This stressful experience may be one that Kayla shares with other nurses and midwives on a regular basis. According to a recent study conducted by Monash University, levels of stress are increasing among nurses and midwives in Australia. 

The national survey of 3000 nurses and midwives, ‘What Nurses & Midwives Want: Findings from the National Survey on Workplace Climate and Well-being’, found that nurses and midwives often experience demanding workloads, resulting in working very hard and very quickly.

85% of nurses

85% of respondents felt that their jobs required them to work very fast, very hard and there is often a great deal to be done at work at least once or twice per week to several times per day.

Kayla is not surprised by these results. “When I’m stressed I become flustered and I tend to rush, which in turn could lead to a mistake if I’m not careful,” she said. “I try to ensure I take my breaks to decrease that stress and compose myself.”

The study suggests that most nurses and midwives have received support from family members in relation to difficulties at work. “Speaking to my family helps me recover from a stressful day at work,” Kayla said. “I also exercise regularly – these two things really help after a challenging shift.” Kayla is not surprised by these results. “When I’m stressed I become flustered and I tend to rush, which in turn could lead to a mistake if I’m not careful,” she said. “I try to ensure I take my breaks to decrease that stress and compose myself.”

What triggers stress?

When asked what can be a trigger for stress as a nurse, Kayla explains that it can be a variety of things, and some stressful situations can be more severe than others. “On average, I experience a stressful situation at work one or two times per week. The level of stress depends on the ward and the severity of the situation,” she said. Kayla listed some of the most common triggers for her stress below:

  • Difficult/abusive patients or visitors
  • A deteriorating patient
  • Feeling incapable of certain tasks
  • Having multiple tasks to do at once
  • Not having had enough sleep before a shift
  • Not being able to attend social events due to the nature of shift work
  • Stress in personal life
  • The unpredictable nature of work

“Most nurses and midwives I work with are passionate and proud of the work they do every day. Every career can be stressful, however I feel that the level of responsibility and duty of care we have to our patients can increase this at times. This is why it’s so important that we learn and practise strategies to cope with stress.” 

Strategies

Some strategies for coping with stress include:

  • Talk to your manager or a trusted colleague
  • Have 7-9 hours of quality sleep before each shift
  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Take breaks during your shift
  • If you’re working a day shift, take a walk during your break and breathe deeply
  • Talk to a family member or friend about the situation
  • Speak to an NM Support counsellor by phoning 1800 667 877

Kayla’s first shift in emergency was challenging. She urges all nurses and midwives in a similar situation to “speak up and don’t feel like you’re alone. Most weeks you will experience stress, but you need to find a way that best helps you cope. Remember that nursing is a 24 hour job and whatever you don’t finish you can handover to the next shift workers.” 

 

What can I do next?

We have more information on stress or you could check out some of our other articles on staying healthy:

Our service provides free and confidential support 24/7, to nurses, midwives and students Australia wide. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support. 

How to stay healthy as a student and graduate
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Being a student or graduate nurse or midwife is an exciting and often challenging time. Many new practitioners in nursing and midwifery describe being confronted by the complex world of health care and feeling overwhelmed by responsibility and information

Check out our new student and graduate section for information about how you can prepare for the challenges during this time of your career. Just visit www.nmsupport.org.au/students-and-graduates

Clinician Profile - Elle Brown
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Photo of Elle BrownElle is part of our nursing and midwifery team that answers calls and emails. She is a registered nurse with 36 years’ experience.

How long have you been a nurse or midwife?

I started nursing in 1981, completing a Diploma of Applied Science in Nursing at the Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences. I was in one of the very first intakes of tertiary educated nursing, instead of hospital based training. University taught nursing is now commonplace, but at the time it was new and it felt good to be a pioneer.

Why did you become a nurse?

My mother had been a nurse and a midwife. She worked in a bush hospital for a while, where she met my father, and as was the way back then, stopped nursing when she had a family.

I had settled on being a nurse and had even applied for hospital placed programs. My mum had a chat with our family GP about it (he was an old school, hard-bitten country GP), and he said that tertiary education was the future of nursing. Looking back, it seems surprising that he recommended this, but I am glad that I followed his advice. 

What areas of nursing have you worked in?

For the first 10 years I worked mainly on medical wards, including respiratory, neuro and gynaecological surgical. The nature of chronic disease meant that I saw people throughout their illness, and I felt it was comforting to them to regularly see nurses who they knew and trusted. I enjoyed the diversity of nursing during this time.

After this I did critical care nursing for 25 years, as a clinician and in management roles. While critical care nursing might not be for everyone, the ability to give patients and their families constant care and attention, and working to return people to an acceptable quality of life, really suited me. Each day I learned something about myself, the world or intensive care.

Why do you work at NM Support?

I’ve had a career in nursing for 36 years and this is an opportunity to give back to the profession. It’s such a privilege to help the people who call us, especially because nurses and midwives don’t usually ask for very much, but deserve a lot!

I am also enjoying being part of the counselling team. We all come from different streams within nursing and midwifery, have different backgrounds, but all have a similar viewpoint. We all teach and learn from each other. 

What types of calls do you receive?

We speak to people from all over Australia about anything that may be affecting them. This includes workplace stress, relationship problems (both professional and personal), letters of notification, needing to debrief after a hard shift, alcohol and other drug problems and mental health issues.

Quite often people will say “I don’t know if you can help me with this” and our approach is to always give it a go. It’s natural for people to want to vent to someone who isn’t their nearest and dearest. There is never a question or topic that we will find strange; we are all nurses or midwives so we understand.

How do you keep your stress under control?

Exercise is important for me. I really enjoy going for fast paced walks. I always listen to music when walking as it clears my mind and helps me ‘live in the moment’. If I can’t leave the house, I get on the treadmill or walk around the house to reach my target of 10,000 steps per day.

After walking, I practice meditation and mindfulness to help relax.

To meditate, I follow led meditation through an app. I’m currently using Buddhify and find it really helpful. There are lots of meditation apps available. I recommend that you try a few and choose one that works for you.

Baking, reading and knitting also help me relax. I recommend choosing an activity that makes you happy so that you have relief from the mundane aspects of life.

It’s important to consciously allocate time out of your day for yourself. You might be thinking “I don’t have time to do that”, but that won’t help you de-stress.  You may even find that taking some time out each day will leave you feeling refreshed and more productive for the remainder of the day.

Final thoughts

Please don’t hesitate to call us. There is no question too big or small and we are happy to answer them all. If we don’t know the answer, we will find out, and everything you say to us is completely confidential. We are available 24/7 on 1800 667 877. 

Nurse & Midwife Support on the road!
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Since the launch of the service earlier this year, I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of inspiring nurses, midwives and students across Australia. It has been a privilege hearing tales of struggle, courage and triumph.

Where we have been

We have visited every state and territory in Australia! On our travels, we have attended lots of conferences and workplaces, promoting the service and taking your feedback on board.

Visits since launch Nurse & Midwife Support

Nurse & Midwife Stats

What you are saying:

Feedback

We are listening!

Rest assured we are listening to everything you are telling us, and we are using your feedback to continuously improve the service. With four newsletter editions each year, we are going to be covering a wide range of topics, and we welcome any feedback and input, which you can submit here.

This issue focuses on stress, as we have heard from many of you that you are feeling stressed, both professionally and personally, and could do with some more support.

Passionate nurses and midwives

Just like you, I am extremely passionate about Nurse & Midwife Support. As a registered nurse, I understand the pressing need for this service for nurses, midwives and students. I received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the service during my visits. It is a great peace of mind knowing that the service is available to us whenever we need it, and we hope it is improving the wellbeing of people who access our service.

I am grateful for the support and interest of those I have met, and I look forward to meeting many more nurses, midwives and students as I continue my visits throughout Australia in the coming months.

I encourage you to please spread the word of Nurse & Midwife Support to colleagues, friends and family where possible.

If you have any feedback or would like to request a visit to your workplace, please contact me at mark@nmsupport.org.au. You can also order promotional materials by emailing orders@nmsupport.org.au.

Look after yourself and your colleagues,

Mark Aitken

Stakeholder Engagement Manager 

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