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From the Editor: Medscape Nurses

Do Nurses Take Care of Themselves?

Susan Yox, Nurse, Family Medicine, 01:45PM Feb 28, 2013

For the over 3 million nurses in the United States, and so many more worldwide, the focus is always on caring for everyone else. But what about caring for ourselves? Why do we neglect keeping ourselves healthy? Is it lack of time? Family responsibilities? Long work hours?

At an ANA conference last summer, a survey indicated that, while nurses are smoking less:
* 70% of nurses are overweight and obese category, with 40% being obese.
* Only 35% exercise 4 to 5 times a week. And only 40% eat the suggested 4 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

I urge you to take a look at the HealthyNurseTM Web site on ANA's NursingWorld site to read more about the survey and see all of the resources that are offered.

A study published in the American Journal of Nursing in 2012 also looked at "the extent to which musculoskeletal pain or depression (or both) in RNs affects their work productivity and self-reported quality of care and considered the associated costs." And what did they find? The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain was 71% and depression 18%! (Here is a link to the study: Nurses' Presenteeism and Its Effects on Self-Reported Quality of Care and Costs)

Medscape also published a Viewpoint (Nursing Shift Work and Body Mass Index) which resulted in an active discussion on maintaining weight when working the night shift. Obviously, nurses often (usually?) neglect their own health. The effect on our own lives, our families, and those of the people we care for can't be positive.

Medscape just posted an article originally published in American Nurse Today, titled "How to Love and Care for Yourself Unconditionally." I urge you to read it and add your comments here. Have you had success in changing unhealthy habits? And are there any progressive workplaces out there that nurture and encourage nurses to get and stay healthy? How? Tell us!

My own story: I joined a small, supportive nutrition/exercise program 6 months ago and I have gone faithfully 3 times/week, at the end of my work day. On the other days, I often walk 3 miles after work. (I no longer have young children at home, so my schedule is easier now, I know.) I am seeing some real results in weight, strength, and overall fitness and well-being.

Perhaps we can support each other and offer suggestions about what has worked, so that others can try a similar approach in their own lives or work settings.

I encourage your comments.


About This Blog

In this blog by and for nurses, Susan B. Yox, the editor of the Medscape Nurses Web site, offers updates and commentary on the latest publications on the site. Reader comments, from nurses and others, are very welcome.
Poll: Do you believe that media portrayals of nurses (positive and negative) affect nursing as a profession? Yes|No|Not sure|

  • Susan Yox
    Editorial Director, Medscape Nurses
    I'm a graduate of the Genesee Hospital School of Nursing in Rochester, New York (RN diploma) with a BS and MS in nursing and an EdD in Health Behavioral Sciences from the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNYAB). I've worked as a hospital nurse, a university faculty member, and as a health educator in a managed care setting. I began working at Medscape when Medscape Nurses began in 1999.
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