Managing Healthcare Shift Work Challenges: Strategies for Well-being and Professional Growth

Shift work is a crucial part of many healthcare jobs, especially in hospitals, emergency services, and various clinics. It can offer you the flexibility you need, along with a higher pay rate due to night shift differentials. However, it can also have a significant impact on your mental health, lifestyle, and overall well-being. To make an informed decision about whether a particular shift pattern is right for you, it’s important to consider all the pros and cons carefully. So, don’t rush into it blindly – take the time to weigh up the options, learn how to manage the challenges of shift work, and make the best choice for your health and happiness.

Understanding the Effects of Shift Work

Sleep & Circadian Rhythms

Working irregular shifts, especially those that involve night shifts, can play havoc with your body’s natural circadian rhythms. This can lead to sleep disorders that can have a profound effect on your mood, cognitive abilities, and overall health. Research has shown that disrupted sleep patterns can cause a lot of damage to your body, both physically and mentally. So, it’s always a good idea to maintain a healthy sleep routine to ensure your body gets the rest it deserves.

Mental Health

Shift workers, especially those who work at night, might be at a higher risk of experiencing mental health issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety. Studies highlighted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have revealed that the irregular hours and isolation that often come with non-traditional work schedules can make these feelings even worse. It’s important to take care of your mental health, regardless of what type of work you do.

Lifestyle and Social Impact

Working non-standard hours can negatively impact your personal life and relationships with family and friends. You may find it difficult to coordinate your free time with those who work or study during regular business hours, which could cause you to feel lonely or left out of important events and milestones.

Physical Health

Irregular working hours and the need for quick, less healthy meal options can have a negative impact on physical health. The World Health Organization has identified shift work that disrupts circadian rhythms as a potential cause of cancer. Furthermore, the lack of regular physical activity due to fatigue or time constraints can contribute to long-term health issues.

It’s Not All Bad: Benefits of Shift Work

Don’t worry, we’re not going to just up and leave you with that list of not-so-fantastic side effects of working irregular hours. Believe it or not, there are unique benefits as well, both professionally and personally.

Flexibility and Work/Life Balance

For those who willingly enter into shift work (or even those dragged in by their shirt collars), flexibility is the most cited benefit. If you can find ways to navigate irregular sleep patterns, night shifts can accommodate various personal commitments: family responsibilities, continuing education, or even hobbies that require daylight. Work-life balance means something different to everyone, and for some, this is the way to find it.

Higher Compensation

As mentioned above, night and weekend shifts often come with higher pay rates that can make a notable difference in your overall earnings. These financial incentives can be a significant motivator not offered by traditional day shift work.

Professional Development Opportunities

As most night shift workers will tell you, it’s a whole different animal from the day shift in more ways than you can imagine. Working different shifts can expose you to a wider range of experiences and challenges that bring professional growth. With fewer resources and staff available, night and weekend shifts often bring more opportunities for hands-on learning and autonomy, fast-tracking the development of critical thinking and decision-making skills.

Quieter Work Environment

While the eventful times may require more of you, many shift workers appreciate that there are many more opportunities for quiet lulls at night and on the weekend. Fewer visitors and administrative activities provide a less hectic atmosphere and more time to focus on patient care. This can lead to a more fulfilling work experience and stronger patient-provider connections.

Community and Team Bonding

There’s a unique camaraderie that develops among shift workers, born out of shared experiences and the challenges of working non-traditional hours. These deep, supportive relationships can enhance job satisfaction and emotional well-being.

Improved Patient Care

We all know healthcare never sleeps, which is why shift work is so crucial in ensuring that healthcare facilities are always well-staffed with the best professionals. This means that patients can receive the care they need no matter what time it is, and healthcare providers can take pride in knowing that their work is making a positive difference in the lives of their patients.
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Strategies for Overcoming Shift Work Challenges

If shift work is part of your life, whether by choice or necessity, you need to find ways to make the best of it and overcome some of the negatives we discussed above. Luckily, all hope is not lost. Here are some tips to overcome the challenges.

Health and Wellness

Prioritize good sleep hygiene practices, such as creating dark and quiet sleeping environments and avoiding caffeine before bedtime. Consider using mindfulness or relaxation techniques to manage stress and protect your mental health.

Nutrition and Exercise

When you’re not able to eat with others, it can be tough to prioritize healthy eating. Planning and prepping healthy meals ahead of time can help you avoid the temptation of fast food. And don’t forget to sneak in some physical activity too, even if it’s just a quick, brisk walk during a work break. Your body will thank you!

Social Connectivity

Maintaining social connections is crucial for our mental and emotional well-being. Make an effort to connect with friends and family regularly. Plan activities during your days off and communicate openly about your schedule and its challenges. By being honest and transparent with your loved ones, you can work together to find a mutually convenient time to get together.

Professional Support

Don’t hesitate to seek support from your employer. Some healthcare facilities offer resources for shift workers, including counseling services, wellness programs, and flexible scheduling options to accommodate personal needs.

Making Informed Choices

When considering a job that involves working in shifts, it is important to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages in the context of your personal health, lifestyle preferences, and career goals. While some healthcare professionals may enjoy the flexibility and change of pace that comes with shift work, others may find it difficult to adjust to this kind of schedule.

Before accepting a position, it is important to ask about the possibility of rotating shifts versus fixed shift patterns, chances for schedule changes over time, and the support systems in place for shift workers. Remember that your well-being is crucial in helping you provide the best possible care to your patients and achieve a fulfilling career in healthcare.


Interested in learning more about shift work and self-care in healthcare? Check out these blogs:

Tips for Surviving the Night Shift

Day Shift vs. Night Shift: A Consistent Nursing Dilemma

5 Self-Care Tips for Healthcare Professionals


Prioritizing ‘Me Time’: Tips for Travel Nurses With Busy Schedules

A career in travel nursing presents unique benefits. You get to see the world, experience different cultures and customs, and take pride in knowing you’re making a difference where it’s needed most. While travel nursing assignments are typically only a few months at a time, it’s easy to get burnt out during those months, and it can be difficult to readjust to normalcy when you turn home.

To help mitigate the risk of burnout, time management is essential. You can integrate health and wellness practices into your daily routine that will help you get more out of your day. So, you can conquer the common challenges travel nurses face, and prioritize “me time” while on the move.

If it sounds easier said than done, you’re not alone. It’s not always easy for a nurse to practice self-care. But, it’s not selfish – it’s a necessity. Let’s cover a few time-saving health practices you can introduce into your life that will impact your overall well-being, and reduce the risk of burnout.

What Challenges Do Travel Nurses Face?

Some of the greatest benefits of being a travel nurse can also end up being some of the biggest drawbacks. You get to be in new, interesting locations for months at a time, but that means you’re away from friends and family. You might have to work in dangerous conditions. You’re always “on” when it comes to taking care of patients and might feel like you don’t have room in the day for an adequate break.

You might also not make the best dietary choices because you’re constantly moving. It’s easy to pick up an unhealthy snack from a vending machine, food cart, or fast food establishment. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, you are what you eat. Poor dietary choices can negatively impact your energy levels, contribute to fatigue, and can even damage your teeth and gums.

Time management is, perhaps, the biggest challenge travel nurses face. It can be difficult to find a healthy work-life balance when you’re away from home. You might have to work longer shifts than you’re used to or work odd hours more often than not. Poor time management can lead to a lack of productivity, extra stress, fatigue, and burnout. When a nurse starts to experience burnout, it can impact their job in a variety of ways. You might start to lose motivation, and you could even start to take your frustrations out on your patients.

Tackling Time Management Skills

You might think you don’t have any room in your busy schedule for ‘me time,’ but there are plenty of skills you can use to manage your time and make room for a better work-life balance.

Start by making sure you’re with the right employer. Who manages your travel schedule and itinerary? Do they care about flexibility and promote their employees’ mental well-being? Don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about your needs, or consider making a switch if your current place of employment isn’t willing to work with your needs.

When you’re traveling, you can better manage your time by:

  • Prioritizing your daily tasks
  • Utilizing a planner or digital scheduling app
  • Taking breaks

It’s also important to seek support when you’re in a new location or at home. You can’t do everything on your own, and while there are some tasks that can only be done by you, it’s okay to lean on your support system for other things. In the field, do what you can to delegate tasks, or ask for help when it’s needed. At home, the same rules apply. Ask family members and friends for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Maybe they can assist with getting your kids from school or making a grocery run for you. The people who love you want to see you happy and healthy, so lean on your support system.

Making Room for Self-Care

Finally, remind yourself that self-care isn’t selfish. It’s been misrepresented in recent years, but it’s not something that needs to be lavish or even take a lot of time. By implementing a few healthy practices into your daily routine, you can take advantage of the wellness benefits of self-care. Some of the easiest ways to start incorporating it into your life include:

  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation
  • Staying physically active
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Socializing

Self-care can look different depending on your stage of life and what you need and want. But, no matter your age, it’s important to be able to manage stress. Things like meditation, journaling, or even working with a therapist remotely are all great ways to reduce your stress, no matter how busy your schedule is.

Taking care of yourself with a bit of healthy pampering can also promote relaxation. For example, do you have a skincare routine? If not, it could be time to establish one. Skincare is important for everyone but is especially crucial for travel nurses who are exposed to a variety of different environments. Taking care of your skin through hydration and the right products can boost your physical well-being, and when you turn it into a routine, you can feel like you’re giving yourself a spa treatment every day.

You’re used to taking care of everyone else but don’t allow yourself to become an “empty cup” as a travel nurse. Keep these ideas in mind to prioritize your time and well-being, no matter your schedule.

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter. 

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

5 Tips for Nurses Working in Hot Weather

Summer is here, bringing with it record temps in parts of the country. If you’re a nurse working in a hot climate, try these 5 tips to help you keep your cool.

by Deborah Swanson

While more than half of all registered nurses work in a hospital, there are many other roles available to an RN with a nursing degree. Occupational health nurses, public health nurses and even traveling nurses are just some of the careers that could have you working outdoors or in hot weather. Since your role is to assist others and care for patients, you must make sure you are comfortable and healthy while working in a warm environment. In addition to wearing lightweight cotton scrubs and taking plenty of breaks, the following tips will help you feel great while you fulfill your healthcare duties.

1. Stay Hydrated

It is always important to stay hydrated as a nurse, but it is even more critical to keep track of your water intake when you spend time working in warm temperatures. The average adult needs between 11.5 and 15.5 cups of water per day, but more may be necessary when you are hot or sweating. To avoid dehydration, nurses who work in hot weather should drink at least 16-20 ounces of fluids in the one to two hours before they start work. After their shift starts, especially if they are outside and active, it is recommended to consume between six and 12 ounces of fluid every 10-15 minutes to prevent dehydration.

Since you will need to consume a lot of fluids each day, it is helpful to carry a reusable water bottle. A flexible, lightweight bottle or flask will fit into a backpack, pocket or fanny pack. Some nurses like to wear the water bottle waist packs sold at sporting goods stores and athletic supply shops. When you want to mix things up, eat fruit with a high water content or drink a healthy beverage.

2. Recall the Signs of Heat-Related Illness

Nurses are trained to know the signs of a heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Before you start your new role outdoors, give yourself a refresher of the most common symptoms. A heat rash may start to sting and make your skin red, while heat cramps feel like painful spasms in your muscles.

Common signs of heat exhaustion include excessive sweating, rapid breathing and a weak pulse. If you feel any of these symptoms, be sure to alert a fellow nurse or call 911 in the event of an emergency. It does not matter how trained a healthcare professional you are because it is essential to receive care before the condition turns into a life-threatening heatstroke. Prevent heat cramps and heat exhaustion by drinking fluids, staying physically fit and checking with your doctor about how prescription medications can affect your health outdoors.

3. Eat and Drink Smart

To avoid fatigue or nausea in hot weather, eat smaller meals. A modest-sized salad consisting of hydrating foods like lettuce, cucumbers and strawberries can help you to stay full and energized. Other smart choices include kale, broccoli and cantaloupe. A handful of almonds or a spoonful of peanut butter can give you the energy you need without making you feel weighed down. Mix things up by infusing your water bottle with mint leaves, lemon or pineapple. You can also freeze a full water bottle before you leave for the day so it will defrost as you work.

At the same time, you should steer clear of dehydrating beverages like coffee, alcohol and protein shakes. Soda and sports drinks may taste good, but they will not help you cool off and stay hydrated. A healthy diet at home will keep your body fit, which will make it easier to work outdoors, no matter the temperature.

4. Carry Helpful Accessories

Other helpful accessories for nurses who work in hot weather include a hat and sunglasses. A hat with a wide brim and some neck protection is always best for sunny outdoor worksites and avoiding sunburn. It is also essential to wear sunscreen on your body and face. Dermatologists recommend using SPF 30 and above, which helps to block up to 97 percent of harmful UVB rays from the sun.

A smartwatch or smartphone can help you keep track of the outdoor temperature or locate a place to get a drink. A medical bag or tote helps to keep stethoscopes, protective gear and medical devices secure while you examine a patient or enjoy some shade. Along with these tools, athletic shoes and moisture-wicking socks will help to keep your feet cool and comfortable while you are on the job. The best footwear for nurses working outside combines a slip-resistant grip with breathable material and a flexible feel.

5. Wear the Right Scrubs

Now that you have the right accessories and footwear, it is time to complete your look with stylish nursing scrubs. Outdoor nurses and traveling nurses tend to prefer cotton scrubs over other materials because cotton is breathable, soft and durable. It also tends to soak up sweat, which allows for heat to escape the body and keep you cooler. Cotton uniforms are available from the top scrub brands, so you will easily find the patterns and colors that you like best.

Some of the most popular styles for warm weather include short-sleeved, V-neck cotton scrub tops and cotton print scrub hats. Wrap tops, drawstring pants and jogger scrub pants are also popular. When cotton scrubs are impractical or unavailable, it is fine to choose a cotton/polyester blend.

You may not be able to control the environment in which you serve the public or care for patients, but you can take steps to stay healthy and cool. Think about your clothing, nursing accessories, meals and fluid intake to make your day more productive and focused. The habits you adopt while working outdoors will be beneficial for serving your patients.

Deborah Swanson is a Coordinator for the Real Caregivers Program at, a site dedicated to celebrating medical professionals and their journeys. When she isn’t interviewing caregivers and writing about them, she’s gardening.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

5 Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health

Healthcare is rife with people who care for others, but often neglect themselves. Try these five ways to better prioritize your mental health.

Oftentimes, those who work in healthcare, spending their days caring for others, do not extend the same level of care to themselves. Maybe it’s because you’re too tired to do so at the end of the day, or perhaps, you just plain don’t know how to practice good self care. Whatever the reason, you really should take better care of yourself—particularly, your mental health.

In an industry rife with a burnout problem, on the heels of the most devastating health crisis in modern history, during Mental Health Awareness Month, if you have not been making your mental health a priority, now is certainly a good time to start.

Try these five ways to better prioritize your mental health starting now.

Start Saying No

Many who go into healthcare do so because they are drawn to serving others, they want to help. Boundaries, however, are important to set for the sake of your mental health. The word “no” (and learning to use it) has power, and it can positively impact your mental health to say no to things you do not want to or cannot do, be it because they would overwhelm you, disinterest you, or for any other reason. Saying no is not selfish, does not need to be justified, and it is something you should do regularly as part of having healthy boundaries.

Take Breaks

In the same vein as saying no, you should take time for yourself more often. Just because you can do something, or have the time in your schedule, that does not mean you need to. Slow down, rest, relax, and recharge—whatever that looks like for you, be it actually taking a lunch break or taking an entire vacation. Listen to your body and mind and give it what it needs. Everything else can wait.

Stay Active

Studies show that regular exercise can have a positive impact on depression and anxiety, and can also relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better, and boost your overall mood. Though you may not have time for a trip to the gym seven days a week, make time to move for at least ten to fifteen minutes every day. Take a short walk, jog with your dog, go for a swim, practice some yoga—anything that gets your heart rate up and causes you to breathe a little heavier than normal counts.

Get Some Sleep

Without good sleep, our mental health can suffer. However, mental health disorders may make it harder to sleep, causing even greater problems. Some helpful ways to get meaningful rest might include hanging blackout curtains, wearing an eye mask, taking melatonin before bed, or setting your thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit for the most comfortable sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation.

Talk to Someone

Sometimes, the best way to care for yourself is to ask others for help. If you are struggling, please know you are not alone. You are just a call or text away from reaching professionals who can help you to process what you are experiencing. If you need support, reach out to them at:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline: Call 1-800-662-HELP
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK
  • The Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741741

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

5 Self-Care Tips for Healthcare Professionals

This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the gift of self-love by practicing these five self-care tips to support your physical, emotional, and mental health.

It’s common in the healthcare profession: you spend so much time taking care of your patients and your responsibilities, you don’t find the time or just plain forget to care for yourself. Ignoring your own needs can be incredibly damaging, though, and can often lead to or exacerbate burnout—a problem that was well-documented as being widespread in healthcare long before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, and one that has surely become worse since. This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the gift of self-love by practicing these five self-care tips for healthcare professionals to support your physical, emotional, and mental health.

Breathe Through It

We know, you’re busy enough as it is, but self-care doesn’t have to be a huge part of your day, or a giant commitment. Even if you start small with just a few minutes of mindfulness, you can still make a real difference in balancing your mind and adding wellness to your routine. Breathing can be an effective way to relieve stress and to ground yourself, and it can be done just about anywhere—at home, in a break room, or in your parking spot before or after work—making it the perfect self-care exercise, even for the busiest of healthcare professionals. Take time to settle into stillness and just breathe, be it on your own, guided by a meditation app like Calm, or with the help of a short YouTube video on mindful breathing.

?? Action Step: Soften or close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Breathe out through your nose for four seconds. Repeat four times.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Just like the physical boundaries you encounter on any given day, such as walls and doors, the mental and emotional boundaries you set for yourself are meant to protect you. It is important to remind yourself that even though drawing lines may be uncomfortable at first, you are doing so out of respect for yourself and for your own well-being. Examples of healthy boundaries you can set may look like resolving to physically and mentally leave work at work, learning to say no to things you cannot, do not want to, or do not have the capacity to do, and granting yourself the time and the physical and mental space at home to unwind after a long day.

? Action Step: Begin to develop at least one healthy boundary you can set for yourself related to something or someone that may be triggering stress in your personal or professional life.

Enrich Your Body

We shouldn’t have to tell healthcare professionals this, considering you have such a firm grasp on how the human body functions, but your own body needs fuel to function, too. It’s not just your patients who need plenty of water, nutrient-rich foods, and restful sleep. Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. You should also avoid foods that can trigger a stress response, such as caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars. Instead, reach for foods that can lower stress levels, such as soothing warm foods, like soups or teas, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, or avocados, which are packed with stress-relieving vitamins C and B6. And, of course, set yourself up for a restful night of sleep, whatever that looks like for you. Some helpful ways to get meaningful rest might include hanging blackout curtains, wearing an eye mask, taking melatonin before bed, or setting your thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit for the most comfortable sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation.

? Action Step: Commit to drinking at least 64 ounces of water each day this week. A marked water bottle may help, if you have trouble getting your sips in.

Unburden Your Mind

Journaling can be an effective way to release emotions you have trouble expressing otherwise, be they negative or positive, or freeing thoughts that, otherwise, have no place to go. If you’re a morning person, try starting your day by committing ten minutes to journaling—set an intention for the day ahead, reflect on the wins and challenges of the day prior, or just write down everything that is on your mind. If you are struggling to find positivity in your daily life, try keeping a gratitude journal, to avoid focusing on your problems and to develop a greater appreciation for the positive things in your life. No matter what you write down, or when you do it, make time to unburden your mind on a regular basis.

? Action Step: Write down five positive things from your day. Here is one to get you started: “I am alive and breathing.”

Find Joy

Whatever makes you happy, whoever brings you joy, make time for those people and hobbies as often as you can. After your shift, snuggle your pets or your partner, cook a good meal or order in, curl up with Netflix or go for a hike, call a friend or read a book, plan a vacation or go for a drive to unwind. Take the time to partake in whatever it is that typically brings you joy, or try new hobbies to fill your time, instead of stewing in the negativity of your day. Getting out of your routine of work, eat, sleep, repeat might be just the thing you need.

? Action Step: Call or text a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. It may not only be good for your mental health to reconnect with them, but they may benefit from it, as well.

You Can Always Ask for Help

Sometimes, the best way to care for yourself is to ask others for help. If you are struggling, please know you are not alone. You are just a call or text away from reaching professionals who can help you to process what you are experiencing. If you need support, reach out to them at:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Hotline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • The Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741741.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

How Healthcare Workers with Children Are Coping During the Pandemic

Parenting is hard. Parenting as a healthcare worker during a pandemic is even harder. These 7 strategies can help your family cope with coronavirus.

by Deborah Swanson

Juggling healthcare work with parenting was already a challenge in the best of times, and the pandemic has made everything 10 times harder. Now providers worry about bringing the virus home to their kids while simultaneously managing unprecedented situations at work. If you’re a healthcare worker with kids, here are seven suggestions for coping with the ongoing pandemic.

Consider Your Risk Factors

Not every healthcare worker is exposed equally to coronavirus. Likewise, not every healthcare worker is equally vulnerable or has a family member who’s equally vulnerable to the disease. If your line of work doesn’t bring you into contact with infectious patients that much, and no one in your family is high risk, you might be able to continue seeing your family as long as you wear proper protective gear at work, wash your hands often and clean yourself as soon as you get home. However, if you’re working directly with COVID patients, or your spouse and/or your kids are at a higher risk, it’s worth taking extra precautions and considering how much exposure you and your family are comfortable with.

Get Partners and Family Members Involved

If you’re raising your kids with a partner, both of you should talk about your comfort levels and exactly what risks you’ll be running at work. If you decide to self-isolate from your family (more on how to do this below), your partner will also have to take on more housework and childcare, so that’s a conversation that you need to have together. You might also want to turn to parents or in-laws for child assistance if they live nearby, but, again, you need to evaluate the risk factors. Grandparents are likely to be older and thus at a higher risk, and if you see your kids at home and then your spouse drops them off at grandma’s, the kids could transmit the infection even if they don’t have symptoms. If your spouse can’t watch the kids in your stead—maybe you both work in healthcare—it might be wise to temporarily have your kids stay with another relative.

Consider Self-Quarantining

If you don’t have people in the area that your kids can stay with, and you know you’ll be exposed to infectious patients, it might be best to self-isolate from the others in your household. This means sleeping in a separate room, using a separate bathroom and avoiding common areas such as the kitchen and living room. Your partner can bring meals to you and then take the dishes away. In some hotspots, hotels and other rentals are also offering rooms for free or cheap to healthcare workers who are exposing themselves to the virus and don’t feel comfortable staying at home. While it’s tough to be separated from their families, for many, it’s worth the peace of mind so they don’t have to fret about whether or not they have infected their partner or children.

Talk with Your Kids About COVID-19

In addition to talking with your partner, you should also talk with your kids about the coronavirus pandemic and what it means. Obviously, you want to go into an appropriate amount of detail for their age range. A good first step can be asking them what they know and what questions they have about coronavirus. Talk to them about how the virus spreads and what they can personally do to help keep themselves safe (i.e., washing their hands). Try to limit their exposure to the news. There’s no need to worry them unduly. If you will be isolating from them or otherwise changing your routine because of your healthcare job, explain to them why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Take Advantage of Technology

Whether or not you choose to self-isolate from your family, technology will play a big role in keeping you connected to both your nuclear and extended family, as well as friends and other loved ones scattered around the world. You might need to help older relatives figure out call technology so they can chat with the grandkids, and you can show your kids how to use their devices to keep in touch with their friends virtually. It’s not the same as being together in person, but these virtual connections can make you and your kids feel less alone as social distancing wears on.

Follow Best Sanitation Practices

Your hospital has probably put out guidelines explaining best sanitation practices for your department when it comes to reducing coronavirus transmission. Be sure to follow these guidelines, which includes donning proper PPE, washing your hands regularly and wearing a mask at all times. Some healthcare workers are also taking additional steps, such as changing at work and bringing home their worn cotton scrubs in a sealed bag. Many also leave their shoes at the door of their house (which you should be doing anyway), disrobe as soon as they get inside and wash all their clothes on the hottest possible cycle while they take a shower. Don’t forget to disinfect any devices, like your cell phone or pager, as well to help keep your family safe.

Have an Emergency Plan in Place

Regardless of what you decide to do, you need to have a game plan in place in case you, your partner or one of your kids start exhibiting symptoms that are in line with coronavirus. You should know which doctors to call, where to get tested and what you will do if the test comes back either positive or negative. You might also find it helpful to keep a “go bag” packed in case you need to suddenly self-isolate or head to the hospital. Hopefully, you’ll never have to put the plan into action, but laying it all out ahead of time will greatly reduce your stress and panic if worst comes to worst.

Parenting is hard, parenting during a pandemic is harder and parenting as a healthcare worker during a pandemic might be the hardest of all. Follow these seven strategies to help your family cope with coronavirus.

Deborah Swanson is a Coordinator for the Real Caregivers Program at, a site dedicated to celebrating medical professionals and their journeys. When she isn’t interviewing caregivers and writing about them, she’s gardening.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

How to Cope When You Hate Your Job

Working in healthcare is just plain hard. So, how do you cope if and when your passion for it seems gone? Here are some things to try.

Even without the added pressure of a pandemic, working in healthcare is just plain hard. On any given day, it can be mentally, emotionally, or physically exhausting—on its worst day, a combination of all three—and the reasons you found yourself wanting to work in the field may be long forgotten, replaced with resentment and regret. So, how do you cope, when you no longer love your job? Here are five ideas to try.

Identify What You Dislike

You cannot fix a problem, unless you know what the problem is. It’s easy to say, “I hate my job,” but, surely, you don’t hate everything about it. Take a hard look at what is plaguing you. What is it that is burning you out? Is it the volume of your workload? An ornery coworker? The things you see in your specialty? Talk it through with yourself, a friend or partner, or a mental health professional, so you can truly identify where the problem lies and develop a plan to remedy the problem. It might be an easier fix than you think.

Remind Yourself Why You Chose Your Job

The power of positive thinking doesn’t fix everything, but it can certainly help. When you are feeling particularly down about your job, it might do you some good to remember why you chose your career path. If you were motivated to go into healthcare to help people, as most are, you are still helping people, even on your bad days. It’s easy to lose sight of the good, when buried beneath the bad—dig out by remembering the real, tangible, positive impact your career makes on lives every day.

Find a Battle Buddy

The buddy system might be something you haven’t thought about since grade school, but it is something that the U.S. military has used for years to increase morale, improve safety, promote problem-solving, and even prevent suicide. Battle buddies, as they are known in the military, can be beneficial in healthcare, as well. If you don’t already have a coworker you can vent to and with, make it your mission to find one. Talk things through on a regular basis, as a way to decompress and let go of negative feelings, and to also bond with your battle buddy, and allow them to do the same.

Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To

Though you may work long hours, you are not always on the clock. Make sure you spend your time outside of work mentally clocked out, as well. Fill your schedule with things you enjoy, be they socially distant time with friends and family, any number of hobbies, or even just a day in bed with your favorite TV show on the big screen. Or, better yet, reward yourself by planning a vacation. Either way, give yourself something to look forward to outside of work to get you through the day. Even if it’s something small, it may be the boost you need to make the hours tick by a little bit faster.

Look for a New Job

If all else fails, know that the role you are currently in is not the only one of its kind on the planet. Luckily, if you’re reading this article, you’re already on a healthcare job board. Take a look and see what else is out there. Who knows, you might end up in a job you just plain love.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

How to Care for Yourself While Treating COVID-19 Patients

People who work in healthcare are being stretched beyond their limits due to COVID-19. Here are tips to take care of yourself while caring for others.

Right now, people who work in healthcare across the United States are being stretched beyond their limits due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Working in an industry that normally experiences a rampant burnout problem, it is important to take extra care of yourself during this especially trying time, not only so you can continue to be effective in your role, but to stay as mentally and physically healthy as possible. Here are some tips, based on recommendations made by the CDC, on how to properly care for yourself while treating patients of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Make a Plan

  • Try to learn as much as possible about what role you will play in responding to the outbreak, so you are able to plan, both for work and your home life.
  • Speak with your supervisor about any concerns you have and any questions you need answered regarding your role in response to COVID-19, as well as day-to-day operations.
  • If you will be working abnormally long hours, explain this to your loved ones and set boundaries, particularly for communication. Your work will be demanding and you will not be able to respond to every call, text, or email in real time, and this needs to be expressed to people who may not understand the pressure you will be under.

Understand & Identify Burnout & Secondary Traumatic Stress

  • Anyone and everyone can be susceptible to burning out or experiencing Secondary Traumatic Stress when dealing with a crisis such as COVID-19.
  • Knowing the difference between the two is important. Burnout is defined as feelings of extreme exhaustion and being overwhelmed, while Secondary Traumatic Stress is categorized by experiencing stress reactions and symptoms resulting from exposure to another individual’s traumatic experiences, rather than from exposure directly to a traumatic event.
  • Symptoms of burnout include: experiencing sadness, depression, or apathy; feeling easily frustrated or irritable; lacking feelings, or feeling indifferent; disconnection from others; poor self-care and hygiene; feeling tired, exhausted or overwhelmed.
  • Symptoms of Secondary Traumatic Stress include: excessively worrying or fearing about something bad happening; being easily startled, or feeling like you must be “on guard” all of the time; physical signs of stress, such as a rapid heartbeat; experiencing nightmares or recurrent thoughts about the traumatic situation; feeling that others’ trauma is yours.
  • Coping techniques such as taking breaks, eating healthy foods, exercising, routinely sleeping, and using the buddy system can help prevent and reduce burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress.

Get Support

  • You are not alone in what you are experiencing. Enact a buddy system, in which you and another person who is responding to the COVID-19 crisis partner together to support each other, as well as monitor each other’s stress, workload, and safety.
  • Check in with each other on a daily basis to offer support, be that in the form of listening or sharing.
  • Help each other with basic needs, such as sharing supplies or transportation.
  • Encourage each other to take breaks, and share opportunities for stress relief, such as exercise or meditation.

Practice Self Care

  • Caring for yourself may be the last thing on your mind when treating patients impacted by the virus, but it is the most important thing you can do.
  • Given the contagious nature of COVID-19, having your immune system in top shape is imperative. Beyond that, stress prevention and management is critical so you can stay well and continue to help in the situation.
  • Effective self care techniques for healthcare workers include:
    • If at all possible, limit workdays to 12 hours or less.
    • Work in teams as much as possible and limit the time you spend working alone.
    • Talk to family, friends, supervisors, teammates, or mental health professionals about your feelings and experiences.
    • Journal your thoughts on a regular basis.
    • Practice breathing and relaxation techniques.
    • Maintain a healthy diet and get adequate sleep and exercise.
    • Avoid or limit consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Know that it is healthy to draw boundaries and to say “no.”
  • It is important to remind yourself that it is not selfish to take breaks when you need them, and that asking for help is okay.
  • The needs of your patients are important, but they are not more important than your well-being. There are others who can help, when you need to help yourself.

Get Help If & When You Need It

You are not alone. You are just a call or text away from reaching professionals who can help you to process what you are experiencing. Reach out to them, if you need support at:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Hotline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • The Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741741.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

The Healthy & Unhealthy Ways Physicians Cope with Burnout

Nearly half of physicians are now using positive coping mechanisms to deal with burnout, as opposed to turning to more unhealthy, self-destructive options.

Nearly half of physicians are now using positive coping mechanisms to deal with burnout, as opposed to turning to more unhealthy, self-destructive options, according to the 2020 National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report by Medscape.

The results, which came from asking more than 15,000 physicians in over 29 specialties to select all coping mechanisms they use, show that self-isolation and exercise are the methods most commonly used by physicians, with both accounting for 45% of responses and tying for the top spot. Talking with family members and close friends was the third most widely used method, with 42% of respondents identifying this as a chosen coping mechanism, and sleeping ranking as the fourth most popular method, with 40% selecting this option.

The full list was not made up of entirely healthy methods, however. Other highly ranked ways physicians deal with burnout included eating junk food (33%), drinking alcohol (24%), and binge eating (20%).

The full list included:

  • Isolate myself from others – 45%
  • Exercise – 45%
  • Talk with family members/close friends – 42%
  • Sleep – 40%
  • Eat junk food – 33%
  • Play or listen to music – 32%
  • Drink alcohol – 24%
  • Binge eat – 20%
  • Smoke cigarettes/use products containing nicotine – 3%
  • Use prescription drugs – 2%
  • Smoke marijuana/consume marijuana products – 1%
  • Other – 12%
  • None of the above – 3%

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

5 Shoes Nurses Swear By

On average, nurses walk 4-5 miles during a 12-hour shift. If your feet are aching, it might be time to consider these five pairs that other nurses swear by.

It’s no secret that nurses spend a lot of time on their feet. Studies have found that a nurse will walk between four and five miles over the course of the average 12-hour shift—that adds up to between 728 and 910 miles per year, on average. Needless to say, if you are on your feet that much, you are going to need a comfortable pair of shoes. If your feet are aching, it might be time to consider these five pairs that other nurses swear by.

Nurse Mates Align™ Velocity

Source: Nurse Mates

Featured Review:
I’ve been an RN for 20 years and this is by far the most comfortable, practical shoe I’ve ever worn! I have no aches or pains after 12 hours on my feet. I recently had hip surgery and this has helped in the alignment of my leg and into my back for sure!! Will definitely purchase again!

Dansko Women’s Professional Clog

Source: Dansko

Featured Review:
As a generally practical soul, I’m not one to rave about footwear. However, these shoes deserve all of the accolades and more. As a nurse, I work a combination of 8 and 12 hour shifts, the occasional 16 hour, and the VERY occasional 20 hour when staffing gets really hairy. I recently worked one such 20 hour shift; I came in 4 hours early, stayed 4 hours late, and then when they couldn’t find anyone to relieve me, stayed until the next shift showed up… [A]t the end of that 20 hours, my feet were still singing the Hallelujah Chorus rather than Get Off On The Pain. And that, in my little world of long-suffering, racing from bed alarm to bed alarm, and hoisting hundreds of pounds of human flesh on and off of the bedside commode, is worth its weight in gold.

Crocs Women’s Neria Pro II Clog

Source: Crocs

Featured Review:
I’m a nurse and on my feet all day long. I bought two pairs of the Women’s Neria Pro II Clog, one black and one white. They fit snug because they were pushing down on the top of my feet. but I did the trick of putting them in hot boiling water for 45 seconds and then wearing thick socks with them until it cool down and formed big enough for my liking. They are so comfortable!! And perfect! I work in a plasma center, and I’m telling all my co-workers about them. Nobody like fluids getting stuck on my feet. Easily washed. I will be ordering again next summer for sandals.

Brooks Ghost 12

Source: Amazon

Featured Review:
I had been wearing Asics for years because they were recommended by my podiatrist. Actually just bought a pair before purchasing these. All I have to say is , wow. I immediately noticed the difference in comfort as soon as I put them on and realized what the Asics have always lacked. The arch support on these are perfect for me. Not too much, but just enough. The toe box is perfect for me in the wide and they don’t rub anywhere the wrong way. I m also pretty heavy on my heels when I I walk and these made me instantly feel like I had a new pep in my step and my heels haven’t been hitting since. I’m a nurse on my feet for hours and I wore these without having to break them in. And the colors are great too!

New Balance Women’s FuelCore Nergize V1 Cross Trainer

Source: New Balance

Featured Review:
Okay, so let me just start off my saying I am an Emergency Department nurse at a trauma center where we always have lines out the door, and I love these shoes! I am on my feet for 12+ hours at a time, and most of that is walking and moving. I rarely stand for long periods of time like some other nurses, but for moving constantly at a steady pace these are great. I originally got these to switch from day to day with a pair of more colorful under armor shoes to give my feet some relief thinking that I would wear these when the other ones hurt my feet but I find myself wearing these more and more!

Please note: receives no compensation for recommending these items and makes no warranties regarding their safety. Items listed above should be evaluated individually for potential risks and hazards.