“The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to promote health and safety, preserve wholeness of character and integrity, maintain competence, and continue personal and professional growth”. That’s Provision 5 of the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements (American Nurses Association, 2015 revision). Holistic self-care (mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, environmental, social) is an ethical and professional responsibility equal to a nurse’s professional development.
You’re probably acquainted with nurses who focus on caring for others (patients, family, friends) more than caring for themselves. It would be preferable to see them as role models for wellness, having balanced lives, emotionally healthy, and practicing personal safety. If you’re a health care leader, there are ways for you to help and support nurses engage in self-care practices. For example, are you offering flexible scheduling, adequate staffing, liberal PTO, continuing education, no mandatory overtime, professional recognition, pay raises, and well deserved break times in comfortable break rooms? Nurses don’t work in a vacuum, and other health fields encounter similar problems: burnout, stress and fatigue, bullying, lack of focus/motivation, compassion fatigue, and increasing hierarchical demands. What are each of us doing to promote and support the health and well-being of ourselves and others? Remember!…when caregivers are cared for, employers and patients benefit, too.
Stephanie Frederick M.Ed., RN and Jennifer Reich PhD, RN offer retreats for health professionals: Shifting Our Spirits: Balancing Our Lives Through Creative Strategies.