Happy International Nurses Week to all hardworking superheroes in scrubs and white uniform!
Just in time for this special week for our dear nurses, let me share this insight to you. While we are fighting for a better pay here in the Philippines, we should also be aware of the importance of taking paid vacation leaves.
Why nurses need more vacation leaves? Why nurses need to travel even more?
Well the simplest answer that I can provide is, of course, for patient safety.
Nursing is a kind of job which brings both emotional and mental stress. From handling 4-5 or more patients a shift, completing myriad of paperworks, unable to eat due to high workload, less sleep and many more, being a nurse is one of the toughest and most stressful job out there. Whenever a nurse is stressed or burned out, would you expect our dear heroes to perform their job optimally?
Unlike other jobs, nurses handle the life of people, not machines. They are exposed to many types of pathogens, even the life-threatening ones. They work in the wee hours of the night and even in holidays just to keep us safe and healthy. They are always there to ensure that you’re free of pain. They encourage us to do deep breathing exercises after a surgery to prevent complications.
Nursing is all about self-sacrifice. With all these hardships, I think nurses deserve not just the increase in pay, but also more paid vacation leaves.
We Are The Least
Compared to the European countries who provide almost 30 days of paid leaves annually, the Philippines only has an average of 5 paid leaves per year according to one study by Center for Economic and Policy Research in the US. Even worse, 2 out of 10 managers considered employees who take all of their leaves to be less dedicated at work. High turnover rate is also common in most hospitals in the Philippines due to nurses seeking greener pastures but the number one reason for this turnover phenomenon is stress.
Stress affects us all. It affects our work performance, the way we make decisions and even our relationships and overall health are affected. For nurses, they eat stress for breakfast. When times get rough and uncontrolled, nurses became burned out. When nurses are burned out, work performance is affected and that’s crucial.
Always remember that whenever a nurse is burned out, patient safety is in jeopardy. Medication errors might happen and even errors in care might occur and it is detrimental.
Take a Break
Each individual has their own way of relieving stress. One of the best ways to relieve stress is to travel. An experiment published by the Korean Journal of Radiology showed interesting results. A group of radiologists scanned the brains of two different groups in an fMRI. Subjects were exposed to different images. The first group were exposed to an urbanized view while the other were exposed to a view with more mountains, trees and beaches. Surprisingly, the brain activates stress hormones when exposed to the urbanized views unlike to the other group which experienced a decrease in pulse, blood pressure and stress hormone levels. This concludes that a stay on the beach, a hike in the forests and mountains or exposing yourself in nature can reduce stress.
Increase in Work Morale and Satisfaction
Some managers thought that nurses who take vacation leaves more often were viewed as less dedicated but it is actually the opposite. Nurses who go on vacation can have a positive effect in their work attitude. It increases their morale, focus and productivity. It can also boost employee retention which can help decrease turnover rates. It can also increase nurse satisfaction and whenever a nurse is satisfied, the patients are satisfied too which produces better clinical outcomes.
What Can We Do?
Most of the time, nurses succumb to work instead of taking a break because of many reasons. Oftenly, requested leaves are rejected due to understaffing and a number of reasons more. With these situations, what can we do about it?
I encourage our nursing leaders and managers to be more open to their staffs. Communication is key in dealing with issues and problems present in the ward or unit. Talk to your staffs, gather information and together make a solution. Involve your staff in decision making and in this simple way you are empowering them and you are enabling them. Sometimes when leaders decide on their own, nurses feel undervalued. Let them speak and you’ll be surprise that your staff nurses have the brightest ideas to offer. Involvement and inclusivity can also boost work satisfaction because their contributions are valued.
In summary, taking a vacation leave is a win-win situation for both the company and the staffs. It can reduce stress, increase work morale, produce better clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. But what is the single and simplest form of reward that a nurse can have according to the latest nurse career satisfaction report in the US? The answer is gratitude. For it, we would like to honor and say thank you to our dear nurses for providing their time for us. Go and reward yourself, file a vacation leave now because you deserve it.
If you’re given a chance to have a vacation now? Where will you spend it and why? Share your insights in the comment section below, we would like to hear from you.
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- DOLE – Book III Conditions of Employment: https://www.dole.gov.ph/labor_codes/view/4
- DOLE – Employers are Required to give 5 Days Service Incentive Leave to workers: https://www.dole.gov.ph/news/view/3081
- The Benefits of Vacation: Why Letting Employees Off Makes So Much Sense: https://www.eremedia.com/tlnt/the-benefits-of-vacation-why-letting-employees-off-makes-so-much-sense/
- MIMS – Nurses most in need of vacation time: http://today.mims.com/topic/nurses-most-in-need-of-vacation-time
- Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report 2016: http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/nurse-career-satisfaction-2016#page=1
- Forbes – Take a Vacation: It’s Good for Productivity and the Economy: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyamohn/2014/02/28/take-a-vacation-its-good-for-productivity-and-the-economy-according-to-a-new-study/#717f5db65a33