Nurse leader

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How realistic is it to expect health care workers to model mental, physical, and spiritual health? If Americans tend to be overweight, underactive workaholics who experience burnout, why should health care workers be any different?

This has always been an issue that I struggle with; being a good role model for my patients and living as a normal, not perfect human being. While researching articles for this post, I found one that talked about an oncology patient who was very upset about being treated by a nurse who smelled strongly of cigarettes and had nicotine stained nails. Meanwhile, the nurses are educating the patients and encouraging them not to smoke. Hypocritical, yes, but according to many nurses, “nurses had to have the right to choose how to live their lives without being turned into ‘health gods’ “ (“How happy and,” 2008) Nurses are looked at as perfect role models who should be the picture of health. But we are people too, we enjoy the same foods our patient do and often sucumb to the same illness. The difference? We know better, but it is not always easy to listen to the voice inside our head that tells us not to do it. We all know how the bad days go, sometimes you may be able to grab some finger food that you can stuff in your mouth on the only 2 free minutes you have for the day. Water? Forget it. Taking time to go to the bathroom? Some days you’re lucky if you go once or twice in a full 12 hour shift. Do we all know how bad this is for you? Yes. Do we still do it? Of course.

Time is often not on our side, and our body suffers because of it. When surveyed, “half of respondents said they felt they had enough time to eat a healthy, balanced diet, while the other half said time pressures prevented them eating well. However, perhaps more significantly, 55% admitted to currently being ‘overweight’ or ‘very overweight’” (“How happy and,” 2008). As long as we continue to care for others, some of us nurses are still going to continue to be unhealthy. Stress and time constraints often lead to unhealthy eating as well as other unhealthy habits. Being aware of these habits can help to change them, but I think no matter what, our patients often get the best of us.

How happy and health are nurses?. (2008, October 21).NursingTimes.net,

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