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Promoting the healthy nurse: diagnosis and plan for self-care.

At some point we have all heard the flight attendant's instruction; "... in case of decreased cabin pressure, and if the oxygen mask drops down, place it over your own face first" "... secure your own mask before attempting to help others." The stress and demands of nursing in the world today requires more action. Do for self--first! An individualized plan of self-care for healthy living must become top priority. Nurses developing their own personalized plans for healthy lifestyle self-care has potential for vast impact. In fact, when nurses engage in self-care this serves and improves society's health. Nurturing self-care is crucial to the future of nursing. Remember, for several years nursing has remained high-ranking in the public's opinion as the most trusted profession.

Oftentimes nurses can be found neglecting to heed the instruction they convey to those in their care. Nurses as a microcosm of the U. S. population are impacted by leading health indicators outlined in Healthy People 2020. These high-priority health issues represent significant threats to the public's health. Amongst pressing topic areas affecting nurses are nutrition, physical activity, and obesity; environmental quality and tobacco. The literature indicates that nurses who care for their own health can better provide for their patients. Recent studies also revealed that nurses who integrated core health practices into their lives have a stronger sense of professional adequacy.

Whether we agree or argue the point, patients expect nurses to guide by example. Further, patients are more likely open to listen and adhere to the plan of care developed with a nurse who is demonstrating behavior and habits they need to develop for themselves. Patients are becoming more verbal and frowning on the expert clinician who role models--"Do as I say ... never you mind as I do." Self-care and healthy living are personal choices. Yet, patients seem to expect a certain level of adoption of health promotion and disease prevention practice from their nurses and physicians.

Yes, we nurses are humans too. Those who have been "called" to this noble profession are a special kind. Nonetheless, nurses are affected by the same struggles with lifestyle as other health care consumers. Although nurses practice in a variety of health care delivery settings, the work environment, may perhaps not be perceived as a healthy place. Staffing challenges, high acuity patients, patient-to-nurse ratios (student to faculty ratios), noise levels, concerns about safety, shift-work, inadequate on-sight employee wellness programs, limited time, and insufficient healthy food choices, are issues nurses confront on a regular basis. Consequently working in "healthcare" is often perceived as taxing physically, mentally and emotionally. "So little time and so much to do"--is a common feeling expressed by nurses on the run. How can nurses overcome the lifestyle and environmental factors that challenge adopting healthy behaviors? Take it one step at a time. Doable starting points direct to where the evidence is--managing stress, increased physical activity and quitting tobacco. Within these critical areas, the majority of us can start creating individualized self-care plans.


So let's see--possible diagnoses: Health Seeking Behaviors; Health-Promotion Behavior; Lifestyle Management. "Self-Modification Assistance" sounds like a good intervention classification. Expected outcomes: 1) The nurse will identify necessary environmental changes to promote a healthier lifestyle; 2) The nurse will engage in desired behaviors to promote a healthier lifestyle. Next steps--ongoing assessment, therapeutic interventions--how about a Lifestyle Wellness Coach? Continuity of care--nurses support systems. Evaluation:--to be continued. The future of nursing depends on it.

Janice Muhammad, RN, CNM, MS President, Nevada Nurses Association
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Title Annotation:Message from the President
Author:Muhammad, Janice
Publication:Nevada RNformation
Date:May 1, 2012
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