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Are There Really Any "Stress-Free" Nursing Roles?

Stress can be subjective between individuals and their unique circumstances, coping mechanisms, or particular triggers. The nursing profession is notoriously known to be associated with an exhausting and stressful career. Must every nurse suffer, compromise, or fall to burnout because of the lack of less stressful positions?

Nursing is generally structured based on levels of care a typical patient requires and the department's level of acuity. Levels of stress are expected to rise when these factors are higher than typically projected. However, less stressful nursing positions do exist. Long-term care facilities, schools, physician offices will have a much slower pace and will be less stressful for most nurses. Compared to very hectic and demanding hospital jobs with an unrealistic nurse to patient ratios, these alternate positions almost offer the exact opposite. Fewer patients, routine nursing expectations, a consistent eight-hour workday, or a predictable schedule can potentially eliminate all stressors of a higher demanding position.

Can what most would consider stressful positions (like ER nursing) be made easier with great coworkers? How can they help?

The nurses who are already in a more stressful position must have reassurance and confidence that coworkers will not add more stress. Coworkers must maintain effective communication throughout the team, have awareness where they are needed, and maintain a positive attitude. The productivity of the group, rather than a single nurse, will reduce job-related stress.

Some universal stress factors between nursing roles are the separation of work and personal lives, lack of cooperation between interdisciplinary members or teamwork, and frustrated patients or family members.

Are there nursing specialties that are particularly stressful or challenging?

Nursing specialties with the potential for more significant challenges may be roles in prisons, abuse victims, or forensic nursing. Particular challenges or stressful tasks are defined uniquely between each nurse. Some nurses may thrive in that environment where others need the exact opposite role. Do stress-free nursing roles exist? Absolutely, but to say exactly where, is subjective and can only be answered by each unique nurse.


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